A&E Crisis Worsens as Thousands of Scots Wait Longer Than Four Hours

Scotland’s A&E waiting times have reached a new record low, with more than 7,300 patients waiting longer than four hours in the week ending 11 September. This is the worst performance since weekly statistics began in 2015, and far below the Scottish government’s target of 95%. Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the figures were “not acceptable” and he was working to improve the situation.

Covid-19 and Staff Shortages Blamed for the Delays

One of the main reasons for the long waits in A&E is the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has increased the demand for hospital services and reduced the bed capacity due to infection control measures. The number of Covid-19 patients in Scottish hospitals reached a new peak of 2,383 on Monday, putting additional pressure on the NHS.

Another factor is the staff shortages caused by the pandemic, as well as the school holidays. Many health workers have been absent due to illness, self-isolation, or caring responsibilities. Some have also reported burnout and exhaustion after working on the frontline for two years. The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said there were significant staffing gaps in emergency departments, and urged the government to invest in more staff and resources.

Patients at Risk of Harm Due to the Long Waits

The long waits in A&E are not only frustrating, but also potentially harmful for the patients. Doctors working in emergency medicine have warned that hundreds of patients are dying unnecessarily because of the delays. They said that patients who need urgent care for conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, or sepsis are at risk of worse outcomes or death if they are not seen and treated quickly.

A&E Crisis Worsens

The patients who are waiting longer than four hours are also more likely to suffer from pain, discomfort, anxiety, and deterioration of their condition. Some patients may even leave the A&E without being seen, which could lead to further complications or missed diagnoses. The long waits also affect the quality of care and the patient experience, as well as the morale and wellbeing of the staff.

Measures to Improve the A&E Performance

The health secretary said he was determined to improve the A&E performance and was working closely with the health boards on a number of measures. These include:

  • Reviewing the current Covid-19 restrictions in hospitals to reduce the pressure on beds and staff
  • Increasing the use of community pharmacies, minor injury units, and NHS 24 to divert patients away from A&E
  • Expanding the hospital at home and discharge to assess schemes to free up hospital beds and reduce delayed discharges
  • Providing additional funding and support to the health and social care partnerships to improve the flow of patients through the system

The health secretary also said that Scotland still had the best performing A&Es in the UK, despite the challenges of the pandemic. However, he acknowledged that the current level of performance was not acceptable and apologised to the patients and staff who were affected by the delays.

The opposition parties criticised the government for failing to address the A&E crisis and called for a more robust and comprehensive plan to tackle the problem. They said that the government’s Covid-19 recovery plan was inadequate and did not address the underlying issues of capacity, staffing, and funding. They also said that the government should listen to the experts and the frontline workers who have been raising the alarm for months.

By Axel Piper

Axel Piper is a renowned news writer based in Scotland, known for his insightful coverage of all the trending news stories. With his finger on the pulse of Scotland's ever-changing landscape, Axel brings the latest updates and breaking news to readers across the nation. His extensive knowledge of current affairs, combined with his impeccable research skills, allows him to provide accurate and comprehensive reporting on a wide range of topics. From politics to entertainment, sports to technology, Axel's articles are engaging and informative, keeping readers informed and up to date.

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