Royal College of Emergency Medicine Menu Menu

Emergency Department performance deteriorates once again as Scottish Health Secretary announces winter plan

5 October 2021

The latest Emergency Department performance figures for Scotland published by the Scottish Government today for August 2021 show that four-hour performance has deteriorated for the fourth consecutive month, again reaching a record low. While the number of patients staying in a major Emergency Department for 12-hours or more reaches a record high.

In August 2021 there were 117,552 attendances to major Emergency Departments across Scotland.

Data show that four-hour performance reached a new record low, with 75.4% of patients being seen within four-hours. One in four patients stayed in a major Emergency Department for four-hours or more before being admitted, transferred or discharged.

The number of 12-hour stays in August 2021 nearly doubled when compared to July 2021. 1,346 patients stayed in a major Emergency Department for 12-hours or more, compared to 760 in July 2021. This figure increased for the fourth consecutive month and it is the highest number of 12-hour stays since records began.

Data also show that 5,279 patients spent eight hours or more in a major Emergency Department. This is the highest figure since records began. The number of patients delayed by eight-hours or more increased for the fourth consecutive month.

Dr John Thomson, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Scotland, said:

“The challenge for health care workers is growing significantly. In Scotland, the army have been called in to assist the ambulance services. In Emergency Departments, long stays are rising drastically, and one in four patients are staying in an Emergency Department for more than four-hours. It is extremely worrying. These pressures are likely to mount further, and performance deteriorate even more as we head into winter.

“We are seriously concerned about patient safety. Long stays put patients at risk, particularly vulnerable patients, and especially with covid still present in the community. We urgently need a plan to increase flow throughout the hospital, to reduce exit block, to prevent crowding, and to ensure that patients who need it can quickly be moved into a bed for their care.

“The current situation is not sustainable; it is dangerous for patients and becoming incredibly difficult for staff.

“We welcome this afternoon’s announcement by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf MSP, including the recruitment of more staff and funding for hospital and community care. We hope that these measures will begin to alleviate pressures across the health system, and in particular reduce ambulance handover delays, long stays in Emergency Departments and exit block in our hospitals.

“However, while we welcome this investment, short-term cash injections do little to resolve long-term problems. We must see a long-term workforce plan that includes measures to retain health workers, particularly Emergency Medicine staff, as well as a long-term strategy for social care.”

Back to top Back to top