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Urgent and Emergency Care under continued pressure as Scottish Government publishes workforce strategy

16 March 2022

The latest weekly update of Emergency Department activity and waiting time statistics show:

  • There were 24,920 attendances, the highest since week ending 10 October 2021
  • 70.5% of attendances were seen and resulted in subsequent admission, transfer or discharge within four hours
  • 7,347 patients were delayed by four hours or more, this is the third highest on record
  • 1,825 patients were delayed by eight hours or more
  • 643 patients were delayed by 12 hours or more, this is the second highest on record

Dr John Thomson, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Scotland, said:

“The data show the stark picture of the health system in Scotland right now and the serious crisis Urgent and Emergency Care is facing. There are extremely high numbers of patients being delayed for long periods of time, and we know that these long waits are associated with a high risk of harm or even death.

“This is a critical time. The pandemic is not over. Covid is ever present in the community, with increasing numbers of covid patients in hospital and a high level of covid related staff absences. The workforce is burnt out and overwhelmed, every shift is extremely demanding with staff covering for absent colleagues and managing high numbers of patients, doing their best to keep them safe and minimise harm. The moral injury to our colleagues working in our Emergency Departments cannot be underestimated.

“We welcome The Health and social care: national workforce strategy published last week by the Scottish Government. It is a positive strategy for the next five years. We especially welcome the commitment to grow the NHS workforce by 1,800 WTE staff and increase the number of medical school places by 500. However, we are disappointed both not to have been consulted on this strategy and by the limited mentions of Urgent and Emergency Care. We look forward to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care consulting with The Royal College on the meaningful details for Emergency Medicine including staffing and capacity needs.”

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