Winter must not blow A&E care off course

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP has challenged the Scottish Government to provide assurances that Scotland’s hospitals are prepared for winter.

During Topical Questions this afternoon, Mr Hume asked new Health Secretary Shona Robison to explain what the SNP Government is going to do to increase support to A&E units and reverse the trend in rising A&E visits.

The call comes amid growing warnings from health professionals including the BMA, who this weekend warned there was a “weekly crisis” around A&E units and GP out of hours services. Figures have shown that more than 100,000 patients waited for more than four hours to be seen in Scotland’s A&E wards in the past year.

The most recent figures on the performance of health boards against A&E waiting times showed that people were facing longer waits throughout the summer months with as few as 93.5 percent of patients seen within four hours in September this year. This falls way below the Scottish Government’s new target of 95 percent.

Mr Hume said:

“SNP Ministers must make sure that the worsening winter weather doesn’t blow A&E patient care further off course. I am concerned that the perfect storm of understaffing, lack of capacity and increasing admissions will be exacerbated by bad weather this winter.

“Given that fewer people were being treated within the Government’s A&E waiting times during the summer months it is understandable that health professionals are urging the Scottish Government to take action now. In the 12 weeks to the end of September, nearly 2000 patients had to wait over eight hours– more than twice as many as last year. Ministers must prove they are listening.”

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