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System under enormous strain, as covid impacts emergency care

5 January 2022

The latest A&E activity and waiting times for major Emergency Departments in Scotland for November 2021 show:

  • 8% of attendances were seen and resulted in subsequent admission, transfer or discharge within four hours – an increase of 3 percentage points compared to the previous month, October 2021
  • There were 103,726 attendances, a 4% decrease when compared to the previous month, October 2021
  • More than one in four patients were delayed by four hours or more
  • 5,697 patients were delayed by eight hours or more, equal to 5.5% of all attendances
  • 1,729 patients were delayed by 12 hours or more

Responding to these figures, Dr John Thomson, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Scotland, said:

“The reality on the ground is that many Boards are under enormous strain, as there has been a significant increase in staff absences due to the surge in covid. Staff are isolating with a positive test or due to a contact with someone with a positive test.

“Emergency Departments were overstretched prior to the new variant. But current winter pressures met with widespread staff absences mean staff are put under more and more strain on each shift which affects the quality of care provided and both the patient and staff experience alike. For many staff, there hasn’t been a Festive break, and they have had no rest or respite but continue to work tirelessly in Emergency Departments.

“The pressures are mounting on the health service once again. It is imperative that we are able to continue delivering vital care to patients. But the surge of covid across Scotland is affecting all parts of the system, not just Emergency Care.

“It is a deeply concerning situation to be in, and what concerns us most is the functionality of the health system and our ability to continue delivering urgent and emergency care to those who need it.”

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