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RCEM response to worst Scottish weekly performance figures ever

19 January 2022

The latest weekly update of Emergency Department performance figures for Scotland show:

  • There were 21,163 attendances at A&E services in NHS Scotland.
  • 67.4% of attendances at A&E services were seen and resulted in a subsequent admission, transfer or discharge within 4 hours.
  • 2,079 patients spent more than 8 hours in an A&E department.
  • 690 patients spent more than 12 hours in an A&E department.

This data shows the worst weekly four-hour performance since records began. The highest number of (weekly) eight hour waits since records began, and the highest number of (weekly) 12-hour waits since records began. More than one in eight patients were delayed in an Emergency Department by eight hours or more.

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

“This data is deeply concerning and distressing. More than one in eight patients have been delayed by eight hours or more; this is shocking. The health service is in the middle of a serious crisis. Staff are working exceptionally hard but are burnt out and overwhelmed and face moral injury on every shift. Patient safety is frequently compromised. We know long waiting times increase the risk of death and patient harm. The exit block that exists in our Emergency Departments which prevents patients moving in a safe, timely manner to an appropriate ward is worsening, causing even more harm to our patients.

“It is a critical time for the health service, and we must see a vision for the future. The government must acknowledge the shortfall in staff and beds as the root of this crisis, and this must lead to a commitment to publish a long-term workforce plan that includes measures to retain existing staff who may be thinking of leaving our NHS following this exceptionally challenging period.

“The government must also commit to opening 1,000 more acute beds across Boards in Scotland, which will promote timely patient flow through the hospital. Lastly, a key cause of exit block are the patients who remain in hospital when they no longer require ongoing Hospital care. The ongoing crisis in social care means patients are unable to be discharged home following the completion of their treatment. It is vital social care is resourced and adequately staffed to support the most vulnerable patients in their return to the community.”

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