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The Scottish public and health care workers deserve so much better

6 February 2024

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) Scotland has urged the country’s Government to take urgent action to Resuscitate Emergency Care.

It comes as new data released today (6 February 2024) reveals the huge pressure A&Es in Scotland were under at the end of last year.

The figures published by Public Health Scotland show that, in December 2023:

  • 107,549 people attended major Emergency Departments in Scotland – a small increase (1.5%) on November 2023
  • More than a third of those patients (44,442) were not seen within the target time of four hours (37.8%)
    • of those 15,107 (14%) patients waited eight hours or more in Emergency Departments, and
    • of those 6,467 (6%) patients waited twelve hours or more in Emergency Departments
  • There was a daily average of 1,813 beds occupied by people who were well enough to go home.

When compared with December 2016, the increases are shocking.

The number of people waiting four hours or more increased by four times, for eight hour or more waits there were 20 times as many people, and when it came to the number of people waiting 12 hours or more the increase was a huge 81 times in December 2024.

RCEM Vice Chair for Scotland Dr Fiona Hunter said: “This data is released each month, and it is a very clear way of demonstrating the immediate pressures emergency staff are dealing with; and that our patients are forced to endure long waits in waiting rooms that are over capacity, in the back of ambulances outside A&E and even having to wait in their car. Unsafe and undignified care is being given to patients in corridors across Scotland.

“But it is when you look back and compare year on year you really get a sense of just how awful things have become.

“Any person having to wait more than 12 hours for admission to a hospital bed in an A&E is wrong. It should be an ‘almost never’ experience. In December 2016, there were 79 patients who experienced this length of wait but in December last year that number had skyrocketed to well over 6,000 patients.

“We know the patients who wait the longest are often the most vulnerable, and that the longer a person waits the more dangerous it is for them.

“This situation is simply unacceptable. The Government must take urgent and meaningful action to Resuscitate Emergency Care in Scotland. It is nothing less than health care workers, and the public deserve.”

Further analysis of the data can be found on RCEM’s statistics page and there are visualisation of the monthly data here.

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