Eight patients wait 12 hours for A&E treatment

The figures shed light on Edinburgh Royal Infirmary waiting times. Picture: Greg Macvean

The figures shed light on Edinburgh Royal Infirmary waiting times. Picture: Greg Macvean

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EIGHT people were left waiting more than 12 hours for treatment at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at the start of the month, new figures have revealed.

Recent improvements at NHS Lothian’s accident and emergency departments were dashed as it emerged 55 people faced a wait of at least eight hours at the ERI – nearly half of the national total.

Across Scotland, nine patients waited more than half a day to be seen – eight of them at the Capital’s flagship hospital – in the week leading up to July 5.

This is the highest figure since weekly reporting began in March.

Opposition politicians demanded answers over the cause of the lengthy waits, as only 90.9 per cent of patients were seen across NHS Lothian within four hours. The Scottish Government has set an interim target of 95 per cent.

Lothian Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “We need to understand the reasons for this. Is it due to staff shortages or lack of capacity, or do the figures tell us that other parts of the health service, like GP practices, are nearing crisis?

“We also need to invest properly in the integration of health and social care if we are ever to achieve these targets.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume MSP said the results were not good enough, and blamed the Scottish Government for failing to support health boards.

He said: “Week after week we see doctors and nurses doing their utmost to ensure patients get the care they need. But the hard fact is that the four-hour standard has been missed again.

“SNP ministers have had eight years to give hospitals the support they need, but last week saw 55 patients in Edinburgh forced to wait eight hours for emergency treatment. This is not good enough.”

NHS Lothian argued that some patients may have already been assessed and were waiting for transfer to an 
inpatient ward.

Aris Tyrothoulakis, director for diagnostics, 
anaesthetics, theatres and critical care at NHS Lothian, said: “I would like to apologise to anyone who has had a long wait. We know this is not acceptable and our teams work extremely hard to ensure patients are seen as quickly as possible.

“In most cases, patients who have been waiting more than four hours will have been seen and assessed and be awaiting transfer to an inpatient ward.”

Ministers pledged £9 million towards stabilising A&E performance in May, which included £1m for NHS Lothian.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “We have put record funding and staffing in place and are committed to lowering waiting times in A&E through a whole system approach.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com