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‘Focus on simple solutions’ RCEM says, as patients continue to face exceptionally long waits amid crisis in Scotland

13 December 2022

Responding to the latest weekly Emergency Department performance figures in Scotland Dr John-Paul Loughrey, Vice President of The Royal College of Emergency Medicine Scotland, said:

“We are deeply concerned about this winter; the crisis continues to escalate. Patients continue to face exceptionally dangerous long waits. We estimate that one in 72 patients waiting between eight to 12-hours in an Emergency Department can die as a result of these waiting times (30-day all-cause mortality).

“But these are data, the reality is Emergency Departments are overcrowded and in extremis. Patients with an array of different needs and care are packed in, facing high-risk and uncomfortable waits on trolleys in corridors. There is a lack of privacy, a lack of dignity, staff are stretched thinly meaning patients find it difficult to get the things they need – be it food or water or bathroom facilities, while they wait hours for a bed. Meanwhile, ambulances queue outside our Emergency Departments with more patients waiting to simply get in.

“Emergency Medicine staff and ambulance crews and paramedics are highly skilled, highly trained competent professionals, but the inability to move patients through the system means they are overstretched and overwhelmed, and unable to provide the high-quality care that they are trained to provide. Patients are worried and anxious, staff are increasingly distressed, unable to provide the real care that they want and should be providing.

“The solutions are simple; bolster the social care workforce to ensure the timely discharge of patients; tackle the recruitment and retention crisis among all health workers; increase capacity by opening an additional 1,000 beds in the acute system across Scotland. These will begin to address the root of the crisis.”

Addressing the concern around Strep A and the increase in attendances at Paediatric Emergency Departments in Scotland, Dr JP Loughrey said:

“In recent weeks we have seen a marked increase in the number of children attending our Paediatric Emergency Departments, cases of Strep A remain high. We know parents are worried at this time. The College has issued advice and guidance together with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of General Practitioners. Emergency Departments remain open to those who need it. If children have symptoms, or parents are unsure, please seek care first through NHS 24, your GP or local pharmacist. If the symptoms are severe or your child’s condition worsens, do not hesitate to seek the necessary emergency care. We are here to help.”

Notes to editor

The latest weekly Emergency Department performance figures for Scotland show:

  • There were 25,450 attendances at Emergency Departments
  • Four-hour performance stood at 63.4%, the fourth lowest on record
  • 9,314 patients waited more than four-hours in an Emergency Department
    • More than one third of patients were waiting for more than four hours in an Emergency Department
  • 3,048 patients waited more than eight-hours in an Emergency Department
    • Nearly one in eight patients were waiting for more than eight-hours in an Emergency Department
  • 1,276 patients waited more than 12-hours in an Emergency Department
    • One in twenty patients were waiting more than 12-hours in an Emergency Department
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