lothian hospitals have been handed more than £1 million to improve emergency care in the run-up to winter.
Health Secretary Shona Robison announced a new action plan yesterday to address problems in casualty, after a “challenging” winter pushed many hospitals to breaking point, forcing 579 people to wait more than eight hours in Lothian accident and emergency departments in January.
The number of people waiting for treatment has improved in recent weeks, with NHS Lothian’s latest figures revealing that 96.9 per cent of patients were treated within four hours, against a government target of 95 per cent.
Ms Robison said: “Last winter was challenging for our health boards, despite the planning that went in to preparing for what is always a period of significant pressure.
“That is why all boards will be reviewing and refreshing their plans ahead of next winter and to ensure A&E performance improves across all 12 months of the year.”
She told hospital chiefs to improve their services by adopting a six-point plan which includes operating a seven-day service by increasing weekend and earlier-in-the-day discharges, and ensuring patients are cared for in their own homes.
All 14 health boards will also received a share of the £9m investment from the Scottish Government’s £50m Unscheduled Care Fund.
Dr Jean Turner, patron of the Scotland Patients Association, said she welcomed the fact that the government was addressing deep-rooted issues caused by reorganisation of the NHS.
But she added: “It’s important not just to throw money at the problem but to really look at how A&E connects to primary care and people’s needs in the community.
“There has been so much focus on reorganising the health service that I think people forgot that it wasn’t about ticking boxes but real people with complex problems.”
Jim Crombie, chief officer for NHS Lothian Acute Services, said: “We are committed to providing swift and effective care for all of our patients in our Emergency Departments and although we have been encouraged by recent statistics, which show close to 97 per cent of patients are being seen within four hours, we know there is more to do.
“We welcome this funding from the Scottish Government which will help us in our ambitions to sustainably improve A&E performance across all 12 months of the year.”