NHS Lothian A&E waiting times: more patients having to wait longer than four hours

The crisis in Scotland’s A&E departments cannot be allowed to continue, Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack has said as the latest statistics show a drop in the number of patients being seen within the target time.

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During week ending August 7, only 60 per cent of people attending A&E services in Lothian were seen and then admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours. That’s well below the 67.9 per cent figure recorded for Scotland as a whole.

It means 1,661 patients in Lothian waited more than four hours; some 610 had to wait more than eight hours; and 342 spent more than 12 hours waiting in an A&E department – all up since the previous week.

At the Royal Infirmary, only 43.1 percent of people were seen within the target time, with 1,251 waiting longer than four hours, 516 longer than eight hours and 303 longer than 12 hours.

Ms Boyack said: “Week in, week out we are faced with thousands of people in Lothian waiting hours and hours for emergency treatment. We cannot go on like this.

“A&E services are dangerously overheated because of lack of capacity elsewhere in the NHS system – with lives being put in danger every day. NHS staff are working heroically but they are being failed day in and day out by this government.

“We cannot allow more lives to be endangered by SNP incompetence. [Health Secretary] Humza Yousaf must finally wake up to the situation and act now before more lives are lost.”

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the number of patients waiting longer than the target time has gone up again.

The Scottish Government has said Scottish A&E departments have outperformed those in the rest of the UK for the past seven years despite the extreme pressures posed by the pandemic. "Occupancy and staffing pressures remain high and continue to impact the delivery of emergency services. Covid has not gone away, but despite this more than two-thirds of patients are being seen within four hours of arrival. We are investing £50 million to drive down waiting times through our Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative programme."

Jacquie Campbell, chief officer for acute services at NHS Lothian, said: “We apologise to any patient who has to wait longer for care than we would like. A&E provides emergency treatment to patients who are critically ill or injured and is an exceptionally busy department which remains under sustained and extreme pressure.

“We urge everyone in Lothian to help keep A&E and our acute hospital beds for those that need them most. This means only coming to A&E if you are experiencing a critical emergency.

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“If you think you need to visit A&E, but it’s not a critical emergency, or you think you need to visit a Minor Injury Unit, call NHS 24 on 111 first, day or night. They can refer you to the right service, as well as scheduling minor injuries appointments if needed. They can also direct you to other places which may offer more appropriate and timely care such as your local GP, pharmacy, dental practice or opticians.”

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