Improvement in A&E waiting times a 'really significant achievement'

Health Secretary Shona Robison has hailed the improved waiting times performance at hospital accident and emergency departments as a "really significant achievement".

Despite flu rates in Scotland being almost five times higher than they were a year ago, new figures showed A&E staff across the country admitted, transferred or discharged 85.8% of all patients within the four hour target.

That is well below the Scottish Government target of having 95% of patients dealt with in this time, but is up from the previous week, when the four hour standard was achieved for less than four of out five (77.9%) people in A&E.

In the first week of January 2018, a total 470 people had to spend more than 12 hours in A&E.

New figures for the week ending January 14 showed this had dropped to 118, while 552 patients waited over eight hours, down from 1,449 in the previous week.

Emergency department staff dealt with a total of 22,883 cases over the course of the week - a reduction from the 25,280 patients who needed treatment in the first seven days of 2018.

Ms Robison said: "Our A&E departments are continuing to be impacted by the pressures and demand of winter, so these improving statistics are a really significant achievement."

But opposition politicians attacked the Scottish Government over its continued failure to meet the A&E waiting times target.

Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: "While this is a welcome improvement on last week, the reality is the first fortnight of 2018 has been incredibly challenging for our health service.

"Almost 9,000 patients have waited longer than the 4-hour standard the SNP set our NHS, and more than 2,000 have waited over 8 hours. These are staggering figures for a two-week period.

"NHS staff are not getting the support they need from the SNP government in Edinburgh."

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "The target for A&E attendees to be seen within four hours has now not been hit since July. Thousands of patients are waiting hours for treatment and care.

"Pressures are being piled on NHS staff. Scottish Government ministers need to recognise that we need to transform these services in the long-term, as well provide NHS staff with the support and resources they need to deliver the best care for patients in the short-term."

Ms Robison thanked NHS staff for their efforts and said: "Flu rates in Scotland are currently almost five times higher than the same period last year and hospitals are reporting a high number of people with already-significant care needs contracting flu, which is increasing demand even further."

The Health Secretary added: "We still have a few months of winter left and there's no doubt we've still got some challenging weeks ahead, particularly with the bad weather we're experiencing, but I'd like to say than you once again to health staff right across Scotland for their continued dedication and hard work."

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