Scotland politics

A&E patients waiting longer, say new Scottish government statistics

A&E department
Image caption Health Secretary Alex Neil said it was a busy winter for emergency departments

More people are waiting for longer periods in hospital emergency departments, according to new figures.

One in 10 admissions were not seen within a target of four hours between October and December.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said it was a busy winter for A&E departments and he would be ploughing in £6m to deal with the 2013 winter period.

The Scottish government announced it was investing £50m over three years in an overhaul of emergency care.

The Scottish Conservative Party said the latest figures showed that the country's casualty wards had recorded their "worst performance for more than six years".

Health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: "This problem has been getting progressively worse and now we know the true extent of the crisis.

"The Scottish government must explain why it was a whisker away from hitting these targets in past years, only to be now spectacularly missing them."

In October, 94.4% of patients were treated within four hours of attending A&E, the figure for November stood at 93.5% and for December it fell further to 90.3.

Mr Neil said it was important that as many people as possible were treated within four hours of their admission to accident and emergency and, while the vast majority were, he added that "improvements can still be made".

In other waiting time statistics, it was revealed that only seven people failed to be treated within a new NHS waiting guarantee of 12 weeks.

The legal ruling came into effect at the beginning of October.

Out of 58,070 patients, seven missed the 12-week guarantee, but they were treated within a few days of that period ending.

Mr Neil was pleased most people were benefiting from the new legal guarantee.

However, he said he wanted to see 100% of patients being given the right to be "treated quickly".

"I have already made clear that we are taking significant action to improve unscheduled care in Scotland to make sure people are seen and treated in our hospitals and as quickly as possible," added Mr Neil.

"Changing the whole system takes time, which is why - as part of that investment package of £50m - we will be doubling our winter planning fund to £6m this year."

Last week, the financial watchdog, Audit Scotland, said poor record keeping by health boards made it difficult to say whether or not hospitals were really treating people quickly or manipulating their waiting figures.

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