Edinburgh A&E waiting times: Humza Yousaf accused of 'dangerous negligence' as Labour warns of lives at risk
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Health Secretary Humza Yousaf should be sacked for “dangerous negligence”, Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack has said as her party revealed figures showing nearly 16,000 people a year waiting over 12 hours in the region’s Accident and Emergency departments.
The statistics show that in the 12 months from November 2021 to October 2022, a total of 15,936 people in NHS Lothian spent more than 12 hours in A&E waiting to be seen, despite a Scottish Government commitment to see 95 per cent of patients within four hours. Labour said the figure had spiralled in recent years, with the number of people waiting more than 12 hours now around 18 times higher than the same period in 2018/19.
And the party claimed that with A&E services “in disarray” and the situation set to worsen throughout the winter, lives would be lost due to the “SNP-created A&E crisis”.
Ms Boyack said: “The facts are plain for all to see – NHS Lothian’s A&E services have been plunged into a deadly freefall by Humza Yousaf’s dangerous negligence. Despite the efforts of hardworking staff, the number of patients spending a shocking 12 hours waiting in A&E has soared this year. The SNP’s mismanagement of our NHS is putting lives at risk – we urgently need a real plan to put a stop to this chaos and protect services in Lothian.”
The 15,936 people waiting more than 12 hours in the year to October 2022 compares with 910 in the year to October 2019, before the pandemic. It is also by far the highest figure for waits over 12 hours of any health board in Scotland and accounts for more than one-third of the 45,895 total of patients waiting that length of time in A&E departments across Scotland.
Scottish Conservatives joined in the call for Mr Yousaf to go, producing analysis that showed a total of 56,228 patients across Scotland had spent at least 12 hours waiting to be seen in A&E since he became Health Secretary following the Holyrood elections in May 2021. In his first week in the post, 113 patients waited half a day or more, but in the week ending December 4, 1,276 people spent at least 12 hours waiting.
Tory health spokesperson Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: "Everyone knows Humza Yousaf is presiding over complete chaos in our A&E departments, but this exposes just how catastrophic his tenure has been. He's long given up on hitting the four-hour waiting time target, but now we see the staggering rise in patients waiting half-a-day or more. If this horrific evidence doesn't make Nicola Sturgeon sack Humza Yousaf, then I don't know what will. He must go immediately."
A Scottish Government spokesperson said Scotland was still outperforming A&E departments in other parts of the UK. She added: "The situation we find ourselves in is the result of pandemic backlogs, Brexit-related staff shortages and increases in winter viruses such as flu, which has seen a significant rise in the last few weeks, making this winter the most challenging the NHS has faced. This is of course not unique to Scotland.
"Scotland already has record numbers of NHS staff and we are recruiting more staff as part of our £600 million winter plan and £50m investment is targeting A&E waits through services that allow patients to be treated at home or in the community.We know the difficulties staff are facing."