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THE number of people waiting more than 12 hours at A&E departments in Scotland has hit record highs, new figures show, prompting criticism of the SNP’s handling of the health service.
In the week to August 21, 1,287 people waited longer than half a day before being admitted or discharged at hospital emergency departments, surpassing the previous weekly high of 1,190 recorded in July.
The number of people waiting more than eight hours also reached the record level of 3,159, according to Public Health Scotland figures released today.
Scottish Labour blamed the record long waits on Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, charging that his “incompetent stewardship” of the NHS is putting lives on the line.
“A&E is in complete disarray and Scotland’s nurses have been driven to consider industrial action,” said Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie.
“Scotland’s healthcare workers are working around the clock, but they are not being supported by this government and its missing-in-action Health Secretary.
“Humza Yousaf needs to stop making excuses for his inaction and start to get to grips with this crisis. If he does not, then lives will be needlessly lost.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton also accused Mr Yousaf of doing nothing to improve waiting times a year on from the publication of the Scottish government’s NHS Recovery Plan.
“We need to see action now,” he said. “He should come to Parliament next week with a new plan.”
Mr Yousaf said that occupancy and staffing pressures were continuing to have an impact on services. He urged Scots to consider whether they needed to go to to A&E before visiting emergency departments this winter.
“Through our urgent and unscheduled care collaborative programme, we are investing £50 million to drive down waiting times, including further development of flow navigation centres in every board to ensure rapid access to a clinician and scheduled appointments, where possible,” he said.
“This will avoid people waiting in A&E waiting rooms unnecessarily.”
While the Scottish government aims to have at least 95 per cent of patients at A&E seen and admitted or discharged within four hours, the latest figures show that only 65 per cent were in the week of July 6.
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