Lib Dems reveal patients spending up to 40 hours in A&E care

Scottish Liberal Democrats have today revealed that in 2020/21, patients waited up to 40 hours to receive A&E care. Party leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has described the figures as “a disgrace” and urged the Health Secretary to deliver fresh resources to alleviate pressure on NHS staff and guarantee fast emergency care to patients. 

Figures for the longest A&E waits obtained via freedom of information from 12 of the 14 Scottish health boards show that patients in Ayrshire and Arran spent up to 39 hours and 41 minutes in A&E departments. Patients in Lanarkshire were there for up to 30 hours and 7 minutes, while patients in Lothian spent more than 29 hours in A&E.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat research follows reports from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine that A&E delays have contributed to 240 avoidable deaths this year and comments made by outgoing chair of the BMA’s Scottish Consultant’s committee, Dr Graeme Eunson, that the NHS system has ‘ground to a halt’ due to delayed discharges causing a backup in A&E departments across Scotland.

Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently been calling for the Scottish Government to take urgent action to resolve the issues of waits in A&E, through the introduction of a Burnout Prevention Strategy plan and a Health and Social Care Staff Assembly.

Commenting on the findings, Mr Cole-Hamilton said: 

“Nobody should spend almost two days in A&E. 

“Emergency care is woefully understaffed. When NHS staff are exhausted, patients’ lives are potentially put at risk.

“We are facing the consequences of 15 years of SNP neglect of our health service. We need urgent action to prevent a staff exodus by looking after staff in the way they have looked after us. If burnout means people leave, the recruitment crisis will become much worse. It takes years to train health professionals so we desperately need to keep the people we have 

“So far this SNP/Green government has failed to put in place a proper NHS recovery plan and even refused to back Scottish Liberal Democrat proposals for a Burnout Prevention Plan to alleviate the burden on staff. Instead they are pushing a divisive independence referendum and leaving our NHS to fall into disrepair.

“The Health Secretary must stop using the pandemic as an excuse. It is time to deliver the necessary resources to support staff and avoid these absurd waiting times.” 

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