Fresh row over hospital performance as Scottish Government defends record

Scottish Government health chiefs have defended their record, saying Scotland’s A&E departments are performing better than those elsewhere in the UK.

It comes after MSP Paul O’Kane blasted health supremo Humza Yousaf’s “lack of action” over the nation’s struggling hospital emergency units.

The Labour politician asked: “What is Humza Yousaf waiting for?” as he launched a social media campaign, containing a graphic counting down the days since Health Secretary Mr Yousaf attended Paisley’s struggling Royal Alexandra Hospital in March in a bid to iron out problems at the site.

Mr Yousaf attended after he was pressed by Paisley–based MSP Neil Bibby in Holyrood when staff leaders repeatedly warned of problems at the Corsebar Road hospital.

Don’t miss the latest headlines from around Renfrewshire. Sign up to our newsletters here.

Figures for A&E wait times at the Paisley hospital have consistently been amongst the worst in Scotland since the pandemic began.

O’Kane, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Public Health, spoke out in the wake of data last week which revealed the RAH had notched up the worst A&E wait times performance in Scotland against patient attendance figures.

The RAH treated 53.8 per cent of 1,170 patients who passed through the A&E department in the week ending May 15 within four hours.

It was down from a figure which had crept up to just over 60 per cent in the preceding two week period, leading politicians to criticise health chiefs, whom they accused of letting down “heroic” staff.

MSP Paul O’Kane has blasted the health secretary

Despite modest improvements, performance across the country in A&E remains well below the target of 95 per cent of people being seen within four hours.

Mr O’Kane said: “Yet again we’re reading of the continuing crisis in our A&E departments across the country and at the RAH.

“Numbers have modestly risen but have then decreased –close to what they were before Humza Yousaf visited the RAH –reflecting the lack of long term stability in A&E.

“What really concerns me is that no action, no permanent changes or improvements have been made since he saw the situation at the RAH for himself.”

He added: “A&E staff are going above and beyond, and it’s only because of their efforts that the system isn’t collapsing.

“After meeting with RAH staff, Humza Yousaf should’ve immediately drawn up an emergency plan to tackle these challenges but instead it seems like he wanted to sit and hope that the situation would somehow improve by itself.

“What is he waiting for? He must act now.”

New data this week shows the RAH managed to see 65.4 per cent of 1,122 patients who attended A&E in the week until May 22 against the four hour target – well below NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s board average this week of 71.4 per cent.

The Scottish Government calls for 95 per cent of A&E patients to be treated, admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

It has been widely missed across the country since the pandemic began.

Across Scotland, an average of 70.2 per cent of patients were seen in line with the target figure.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are working closely with all boards to ensure sustainable improvements in A&E performance.

“We know the situation may fluctuate as hospitals manage pandemic-related challenges and backlogs, but we expect the pressure in A&E to ease as COVID cases continue to decrease.”

The spokeswoman added: “Hospitals continue to face capacity issues as a result of high demand, staff absence and reduced beds due to infection control requirements, while high numbers of patients presenting who are acutely unwell is leading to a longer length of time spent in hospital and impacting on flow.

“Boards are continuing to safely roll-out the relaxation of COVID infection and control measures aimed at easing patient flows. Delayed discharges cause hold-ups in patient flow and this is why we have invested £10m for two new specialist programmes – Discharge without Delay and Interface Care – which will speed up the hospital discharge process or provide an alternative to hospital care altogether.

“Scotland continues to have the best performing A&Es in the UK, outperforming those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for over six years.”

Union leaders at the RAH have been warning of “chronic” shortages of staff since last October.

They told the Express how workers were “on their knees” and branded the situation “dire”.

Download the FREE Renfrewshire Live app now for all the latest news, features and sport in your area. Available on both Android and Apple. Download

Daily Record – Paisley