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Lives being needlessly lost due to A&E waits, warn Tories

The latest accident and emergency performance figures have been published (PA)
The latest accident and emergency performance figures have been published (PA)

Lives are being “needlessly lost” as the number of patients waiting more than the target time at accident and emergency units stagnates, the Scottish Conservatives have claimed.

Health Secretary Neil Gray has acknowledged waits to been seen at A&E departments across Scotland are still “too high”.

It comes as Public Health Scotland data showed that of the 27,190 people who attended A&E in the week ending June 9, 67.6% were seen and subsequently admitted, transferred or discharged within the four-hour target.

The Scottish Government aims to see 95% of A&E attendances within this timeframe, however it has not been achieved since the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The most recent figure was down slightly from the previous week, when 68% were seen in the four-hour target, however it was above the 65.9% weekly average in 2023.

Patients waiting more than eight hours in A&E fell slightly in the latest week, with 2,737 (10.1%) in this category compared to 2,956 (10.5%) the previous seven days.

Meanwhile, 1,118 (4.1%) of patients spent more than 12 hours in A&E, compared to 1,203 (4.3%) the previous week.

Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “SNP ministers continue to sit on their hands and ignore the crisis while our A&E departments are at breaking point.

“With the NHS’s peak winter period well behind us, we should be seeing drastic improvements. But due to the SNP mismanagement we’re not – and lives are being needlessly lost as a result.”

Neil Gray talking, dressed in a suit jacket and tie
Health Secretary Neil Gray acknowledged A&E waits remain too high (Jane Barlow/PA)

He said it has become the “shocking norm” that almost 3,000 patients wait more than eight hours.

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Dame Jackie Baillie said: “Under the SNP, Scotland’s NHS is going backwards.

“It is deeply worrying that so many people are not getting the urgent treatment they require in A&E departments across Scotland.

“SNP neglect of our NHS is putting lives on the line.

“Warm words won’t cut it – we need action now.”

However Mr Gray said: “This week’s statistics show more than two-thirds of patients were seen within four hours, with long waits showing a general downward trend since early April. However, we recognise delays remain too high and we continue to work intensively with (health) boards to reduce these waits.

“Health services continue to face sustained pressure, and this is not unique to Scotland, with similar challenges being felt right across the UK. The 2024-25 Scottish Budget provides more than £19.5 billion for health and social care and an extra £500 million for frontline boards.”