Scotland politics

Government A&E waiting times target missed

Ambulances wait outside an emergency department
Image caption The Scottish government started to publish weekly A&E waiting times in March

Monthly A&E waiting times in Scotland have improved slightly since January but have failed to meet government targets, NHS statistics show.

In February, almost 87.9% of people were seen within time, up from 87.1% in January.

But weekly waiting times, which cover major hospitals only, show a slight drop in performance.

The Scottish government said it had been challenging winter, but there were signs of improvement.

The latest figures show Scotland's main A&E units dealt with 26,465 patients between 23 and 29 March.

Of those, 91.3% of people were seen within four hours, compared to 91.7% the previous week.

A total of 213 had to wait more than eight hours to be seen, while 22 spent 12 hours or more in A&E.

Only the weekly figures can be compared with those produced in England, where 87.8% of A&E admissions at major hospitals were seen within four hours during the same week.

The Scottish government first began publishing weekly waiting times in March, following one of the worst winters for Scottish A&Es in recent years.

'Challenging winter'

Health Secretary Shona Robison said waiting times were improving.

She said: "As the weekly figures for February have already shown us, this year's winter was a very challenging one for our A&E departments. However, we are seeing signs of improvement with waits reducing in February when compared to January, and further improvement throughout March.

"Attendances at A&E over the last year have also risen when compared to the two previous years, however, it is encouraging to see that long waits have dropped significantly since the start of the year, with figures for the week ending 29 March showing that 0.8% of patients waited for more than eight hours."

But Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jenny Marra said only her party had the policies to reduce waiting times.

She said: "It has been more than 2,000 days since the SNP last met their own target on A&E figures. If anything, we appear to be going backwards as patients wait too long for treatment at our overstretched A&E departments.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume said the Scottish government should prioritise the NHS.

He said: "It's disappointing once again to see that whilst NHS staff are doing their utmost to deliver excellent patient care, the SNP government doesn't have its priorities straight. NHS staff need more resources and only Liberal Democrats are committed to delivering an £800m boost to the Scottish NHS."

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