Euan McGrory: NHS Lothian facing immense pressures

Lothian patients are facing ever-longer waits in emergency departments
Lothian patients are facing ever-longer waits in emergency departments
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The pressures on our hospitals as winter starts to close in are obvious and immense.

Thousands are facing long waits in emergency departments as overworked staff face a rush of extra patients injured in winter falls and suffering seasonal viruses. That is piling pressure on wards where hundreds of patients remain stuck waiting for care packages as a result of the city’s on-going care crisis. Perhaps the most worrying thing is that these pressures may yet grow considerably especially if the weather turns worse in the weeks ahead. It is no wonder then that Health Minister Shona Robison has decided now is the time for action.

Patients in the Lothians are facing the longest waits in Scotland in a series of key areas, including treatment in emergency departments, key diagnostic tests including those to detect cancer and care packages to allow older patients to return home from hospital. Ms Robison appears to be losing faith in the ability of the health board to tackle these problems. Underlying this, however, are two on-going arguments, over whether Lothian’s health services are properly funded to meet growing demand and whether waiting time targets force medics to prioritise the wrong patients.