Lothian MSP Sarah Boyack claims ‘Ministers have taken eye off ball in health crisis’

Labour's Sarah Boyack has accused the Scottish Government of taking its eye off the ball on the health crisis in Lothian as Accident and Emergency performance continues to fall short of official targets and delayed discharges keep on spiralling.

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New figures show that for May 2022, only 65.8 per cent of people in A&E were seen and dealt with – admitted, transferred or discharged – within four hours, which is the target set by the government. That is a marginal improvement compared to 64.5 per cent recorded for the previous month.

In May, there were 2,465 people in Lothian who were stuck in A&E for more than eight hours, with 1,087 being forced to spend more than 12 hours in NHS Lothian emergency departments.

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The A&E waiting statistics come as the new monthly report on delayed discharge shows rates for May 2022 soaring to 8,985, compared to 8,402 in April 2022.

That makes NHS Lothian the second worst performing health board in Scotland, with only NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde recording worse figures, with 10,956 delayed discharges in May 2022.

Overall, a total of 6,900 days were lost to delayed discharge in Lothian during May.

Lothian Labour MSP Ms Boyack said the figures were “shocking” and said it was costing NHS Lothian thousands of pounds and starving A&E and other services of vital beds and resources.

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Lothian MSP Sarah Boyack says the latest figures are 'shocking'.

She said: “Another month, another set of damning statistics from NHS Lothian.

“On top of the cost of living crisis, which is taking its toll on people’s mental and physical health, we see piling pressure on our NHS, worsening patients outcomes and huge waste of public money.

"The SNP/ Green coalition have taken their eye off the ball.

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“These are not just figures – it is someone’s dad, friend or life partner; it’s the NHS staff who is overworked and underpaid; it’s the people who left our health service because they simply couldn’t cope.

“With a general election approaching, now is the time focus on what really matters and make a difference for millions of people.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said Covid inpatient cases in hospitals were rising and having a detrimental impact on delays in A&E, but despite that, nearly two-thirds of patients were being seen in A&E departments within the four-hour target.

“Scotland continues to have the best performing A&Es in the UK, outperforming those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for over six years.”

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She added that funding of £50 million funding was being provided to support a range of measures to reduce A&E waiting times and improve patient experience, including alternatives to hospital-based treatment.

“We continue to see high levels of Covid transmission and people in hospitals with the virus which is resulting in reduced capacity in our hospitals and staff absence. We encourage people to think carefully before going to an emergency department and for many A&E will not be the right place for their healthcare need. People should consider whether their condition is an emergency, such as a stroke, heart attack or major trauma. NHS 24 is available for those who think they need A&E but it is not an emergency.

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