FIGURES showing an increase in waiting times at Highland A&E departments reveal the “unacceptable pressure” being faced by the health service, an MSP has claimed.
The statistics from ISD Scotland, the NHS’s own data service, reveal that 3600 patients in the NHS Highland area faced a wait of more than four hours for treatment after turning up at accident and emergency last year. That is a rise of more than 12 per cent, from just over 3100 in 2017.
In the same 12 months 194 patients waited more than eight hours – a rise of almost a third – with the only fall coming in those waiting more than 12 hours, which fell by a third to 12 patients.
David Stewart, Highlands and Islands MSP and Scotland’s shadow minister for health, said: “I have been concerned about the pressures on NHS Highland for some time and these figures expose the scale of the challenge NHS staff face in delivering patient care and how badly they have been let down by years of SNP mismanagement of our NHS.
“Increasing numbers of people waiting too long at A&E reveals unacceptable pressure in other parts of our health service, such as in social care and primary care.
“Ministers set the health service targets for staff to hit and then do not deliver the support and resources needed. It simply isn’t good enough.”
A spokesman for NHS Highland said the numbers of patients presenting for treatment was continually growing.
“For April to December 2017, the total number of attendances in accident and emergency hospitals was 47,967 and for April to December 2018 this rose to 49,972 – an increase of 2005 with an equivalent performance,” he said.
“There are a number of reasons for patients to spend longer than four hours in emergency departments, including high pressure on receiving beds into the hospital or clinical complexity of individual cases.
“The reasons leading to long patient waits in the emergency department are recorded and scrutinised on a daily basis in order to help continually develop and improve our systems to improve patient flow.
“Where possible, patients that are potentially attending for inappropriate reasons are re-routed to the correct pathway eg community pharmacist, NHS24 or their GP.”