Lothian hospitals fail to hit key waiting times targets

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TWO people waited more than 12 hours for treatment in accident and emergency departments at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary – as figures reveal Lothian hospitals are again missing key wait time targets.

Monthly data published yesterday revealed that NHS Lothian saw 91.6 per cent of patients within four hours, against strict government targets which demand health boards must see 95 per cent within that time. This was an improvement on January’s figure of 87.2 per cent.

The health board performed well against other authorities including NHS Ayrshire and Arran which saw 82.7 per cent of patients within the targeted time, and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with 79.6 per cent seen in that time.

Weekly waiting times data revealed the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary only treated 89.7 per cent of patients in the week leading up to March 29, despite meeting the target during the first two weeks of March.

Two people waited more than 12 hours and 27 waited more than eight hours.

The Sick Kids Hospital performed well with nearly 100 per cent of patients seen within the time limits and St John’s Hospital, in Livingston, also met its target.

Jim Crombie, chief officer of NHS Lothian Acute Services, said: “In the week ending March 29, in NHS Lothian, we treated, transferred or discharged more than nine out of ten patients – 93.5 per cent – within four hours, which is above the national average for Scotland.

“I would assure patients however, that we are not complacent and will continue to improve access and systems to drive down waiting times.”

But the results were branded as “disappointing” by Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack, who said it had been nearly 2,000 days since the targets had been met nationally.

She said: “It’s disappointing that again the Scottish 
Government’s A&E waiting targets are not being met. The ERI stands out with less than one in ten people being seen within the time limit.

“The SNP government needs to address the resource issues which lie behind this failure.”

Ms Boyack added: “We need to give our NHS the support it needs to deliver the care Scots deserve.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said that the stretched casualty departments had suffered a difficult winter but signs of improvement could now be seen with waits reducing in February’s monthly figures.

She added: “Of course, more still needs to be done, and health boards must now focus on sustaining the reduced waiting times we have recently seen and moving towards meeting our world-leading targets.”

The government began publishing weekly waiting times disclosures last month after bowing to rising political pressure to release the data in line with the health boards in England.

Union chiefs have warned previously that meeting the targets was putting an extra strain on overstretched staff.

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com