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“These data are deeply concerning” RCEM Scotland says, as one in 20 patients face 12-hour waits in A&Es in Scotland

05 December 2023

Latest data show more than one in 20 patients attending A&Es in Scotland faced a 12-hour wait in October, as RCEM Scotland describes the data as “deeply concerning”.

Monthly A&E performance figures for Scotland for October 2023 published by the Scottish government show:

  • In October 2023, there were 111,179 attendances at major A&Es in Scotland
    • This is a decrease of 2.4% from the previous month
  • 8% of patients were seen within four-hours at major A&Es (Type 1 EDs)
    • 39,157 (35.2%) patients waited over four-hours in major Emergency Departments, this is a 2.7% increase from the previous month and a 3% decrease from October 2022.
    • The number waiting more than four-hours has increased more than five times since October 2016 (7,793).
  • 13,800 (12.4%) patients waited eight-hours or more in an Emergency Department
    • This is the highest number of patients waiting eight-hours recorded this year
    • The proportion of patients waiting eight hours has increased by 2 percentage points from the previous month and has decreased by 1.4 percentage points compared with October 2022
    • The number waiting more than eight hours is more than 21 times the number waiting in October 2016 (654)
  • 5,927 (5.3%) patients waited more than 12-hours before being seen, admitted, discharged, or transferred
    • This is equal to more than one in 20 patients waiting 12-hours or more in major A&Es in Scotland
    • The proportion waiting this long has increased by 1.6 percentage points from the previous month. And has decreased by 0.7 percentage points compared with October 2022
    • The number waiting more than 12-hours is more than 54 times the number waiting in October 2016 (109)
  • There were 1,831 beds occupied due to delayed discharges, an increase of 20 from the previous month and the second highest October on record.

Commenting, RCEM Scotland Vice President, Dr John-Paul Loughrey said:

“These data from October are deeply concerning. Now, in December, the situation has changed, the weather is extremely cold with much of Scotland covered in snow and dangerous ice – and things are much more difficult and precarious for both patients and staff.

“This is the most challenging time of year for the health service. Norovirus and other infections are putting significant pressure on a system already under immense strain.

“Staff continue to do their very best to deliver effective care in a timely way, reduce waiting times and mitigate any risks. However, the NHS in Scotland is not as prepared as it could be.

“We do not have a sufficient number of beds and this is driving these delays for care and the long waiting times in overcrowded A&Es. This has a knock-on effect as ambulances are stuck queuing outside A&Es, unable to attend to calls in the community.

“Our patients deserve better than this, they deserve better than to wait for 12 hours for the care they desperately need. But with no beds available, staff are unable to admit them and move them onto the next stage of their care.

“It is a disheartening situation, distressing for patients and difficult for staff.

“The Scottish government’s winter plan did not go far enough and we urge the Scottish Government to revisit their plan and rapidly open more beds and provide additional resources to help the health service through this challenging time and protect patients.

“We have the priorities to #ResuscitateEmergencyCare, the government must adopt these before we see performance deteriorate drastically and patients come to further harm.”

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