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RCEM Scotland Vice President: “This summer Emergency Departments across Scotland have been operating at maximum capacity”

3 September 2019

Figures released today by the Scottish Government for July 2019 highlights continued difficulties faced by Emergency Departments.

Data for July 2019 shows that only 89.60% of patients were seen within the four-hour target in major Emergency Departments across Scotland. Although this represents a marginal improvement of 1.0 percentage point since June 2019, overall performance has deteriorated by 2.2 percentage points since July 2018.

The total number of attendances have also increased from the previous month. In July 2019 there were 122,792 attendances at Emergency Departments in Scotland. The number of patients waiting 12 hours or more in July 2019 has increased by 42 patients since the previous month. In July 2019 1,511 patients were affected by delayed discharges, representing an increase of 91 patients since July 2018.

Dr David Chung, Vice President of RCEM Scotland said: “This summer Emergency Departments across Scotland have been operating at maximum capacity. What we feared might be a blip in performance is becoming something more worrying.

“We’re seeing more and more patients every day in overcrowded hospital wards. Patients who are stuck in Scottish Emergency Departments are waiting a very long time to be admitted to a hospital bed.

“The increase of patients waiting 12-hours or more does not match the rate at which attendances to Emergency Departments have increased. This could mean a deterioration in care for these patients, in terms of loss of dignity, comfort, and getting the correct timely assessment and treatment they need elsewhere in the hospital. We also know there is an increased risk of unintentional harm to patients in a system with growing numbers of patients waiting 12 hours or more.

“Evidently, Scottish Emergency Departments continue to struggle with the rising demands and lack of resources across the whole health and social care system. The solution is to accurately gauge the capacity Scotland needs and plan to provide those services. The evidence based on these figures is this cannot be done with the current resource allocation, despite the best efforts of staff to do the best with what they have.”

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