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Dangerous long waits on the rise as more than one in three patients face four-hour waits in Scotland’s A&Es

03 January 2023

Latest data show that dangerous long waits are on the rise as more than one in three patients faced a four-hour wait in Scotland’s A&Es in November 2023.
Monthly A&E performance figures for Scotland for November 2023 published by the Scottish government show:

  • In November 2023, there were 105,928 attendances at major A&Es in Scotland
    • This is a decrease of 4.7% from the previous month
  • 63.5% of patients were seen within four-hours at major A&Es (Type 1 EDs)
    • 40,320 (36.5%) patients waited over four-hours in major A&Es
    • More than one in three patients waited over four-hours in major A&Es
    • This is the worst four-hour performance for any November since records began
  • 14,202 (13.4%) patients waited eight-hours or more in an Emergency Department
    • This is the highest number of patients waiting eight-hours recorded in 2023
  • 6,133 (5.8%) patients waited more than 12-hours before being seen, admitted, discharged, or transferred.
    • This is the largest proportion of patients who waited this long for any month in 2023 and the largest for any November since records began.

Commenting, RCEM Scotland Vice Chair, Dr Fiona Hunter said:
“While these data are shocking, they are from November, and the situation has deteriorated much further. These dangerous long waits are on the rise, and they are a threat to patient safety.”

“It is a distressing and demoralising situation for staff who are doing all they can, and they desperately want to deliver timely, high-quality and effective care for their patients but are unable to do so in the current conditions.”

“While for patients, these waits are long, uncomfortable and undignified, sometimes on trolleys in corridors, sometimes in overcrowded and loud A&Es, and other times in the back of an ambulance outside the A&E.”

“The data for November are grim, the current reality is far worse. The weather in Scotland is predictably going to get colder, and along with that it is likely we will see a rise in viruses and infections that will put further pressure on the system.

“We urge the Scottish government to act now and open more beds in hospitals across Scotland, so patients can get the care they need in a timely way and invest more in social care, so patients are able to be discharged. The NHS in Scotland must protect patients this winter, the government must ensure it can.”

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