Waiting times at the A&E department of Scotland’s newest and most expensive hospital were the worst in the country at the start of the year, according to official figures, as ministers admitted emergency rooms were coming under “substantial increased pressure”.
A quarter of patients who visited the emergency department at the £842 million Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow were not seen within the target time of four hours in the week ending 10 January, the statistics showed. The Scottish Government’s target is for 95 per cent to be seen within this time.
The hospital has been beset by problems since it opened in April last year, with one senior nurse describing conditions inside as “like Beirut”. Earlier this month it emerged that a 90-year-old woman was forced to lie on a trolley for eight hours without a pillow as she waited to be seen by doctors.
Glasgow Royal Infirmary had the second poorest performing emergency department, the figures showed, with 76.3 per cent of patients seen within the target time – well below the Scottish average of 88 per cent. Overall, 527 people spent more than eight hours in A&E and 85 waited for more than 12 hours.
Scottish Labour’s public services spokesperson Dr Richard Simpson accused the SNP of operating a policy of “crisis management” with Scotland’s NHS services and said his party would invest in social care to relieve the burden being placed on the nation’s hospitals.
Health news in pictures
Health news in pictures
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RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / Getty
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“These shocking figures show that the SNP are failing patients and staff in our NHS,” he added. “Our NHS staff are being overstretched week in, week out. We know that only a third of NHS staff think they have the support and the resources to do their jobs properly. This is the result of the SNP cutting the health budget.”
Last summer the Scottish Government sent in a team of experts to help staff at the Queen Elizabeth improve A&E waiting times, with performance rising markedly as a result. However, within a matter of months results had dipped again.
Responding to the latest figures, Health Secretary Shona Robison said the week following the Christmas break was one of the most demanding of the year and pointed out that overall A&E performance across Scotland was nearly 5 per cent better than at the same time in 2015.
“This is a time of substantial increased pressure on our NHS,” she added. “This first week of the year came after a four-day public holiday and we know that also impacts on performance the following week. Our clear focus is now on supporting boards and hard working staff to ease pressure across the system.”