Waiting times and record attendance numbers at Fife’s A&E departments need immediate action.
This week it was revealed:
- Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital A&E department recorded five of its highest daily attendances since records began, between May and August.
- In Fife, 74.3% of people were seen within four hours of arriving at A&E – falling short of the national 95% target.
- The number of patients who waited eight hours doubled from 22 to 44.
- Six patients waited over 12 hours.
NHS Fife issued yet another stark warning to the public this week – asking people to use Kirkcaldy’s Accident & Emergency department only for life-threatening conditions.
But calls have been made for more to be done to solve the issue.
NHS Fife’s public warning – their ninth in just six weeks – came as attendance levels rose to far beyond what the health board expects at this time of year.
They urged Fifers to call 111 or NHS 24 for non-life threatening issues to relieve pressure on services, and praised staff for their hard work.
Alex Rowley MSP said things were “going in the wrong direction” and called for transparency from NHS Fife bosses on the scale of the problem.
He said: “Staff are overwhelmed with the pressures growing and fundamental to the issue is the failure to workforce plan.
‘We need a rethink’
“The government under the ‘Right Care Right Place’ programme that went live in November 2020, hoped by asking members of the public to call 111 if they have a health problem that they would normally take themselves to A&E for, it would relieve the pressure on A&E by 15 to 20%.
“However the data suggests it is having no impact and therefore we need to see a rethink and action to support A&E.
“Being in denial about the level of the problems and challenges is not helping overworked staff or patients and means nothing happens whilst the problems just get worse.”
NHS Fife Director of Acute Services, Claire Dobson, said: “The staff working in our Emergency Department, like elsewhere in our hospitals, are working incredibly hard, and under significant pressure, to continue to provide patients with the best possible standard of care.”
‘Good quality care still provided’
During the summer months Emergency Department attendances have gone well beyond even busy winter months, she added.
“This comes at a time when our hospitals are already under considerable strain due to a sustained increase in the number of patients requiring inpatient care.”
But she said:
- Staff in emergency departments continue to provide good quality care.
- The vast majority of patients are still seen within the four hour standard.
- Patients are triaged so those who need urgent treatment are seen quickly.
NHS Fife Deputy Chief Executive, Margo McGurk added they’ve been transparent about the scale of pressure on services and following a recent board meeting the Chief Executive outlined steps to address them.
“The demands currently placed on healthcare services in Fife, much like in other parts of the country, are unprecedented.
“We look forward to working positively with our local elected members to ensure people in the Kingdom continue to have access to good quality, local healthcare.”