Scottish Government response to RAH crisis slammed as “woeful”

The Scottish Government has been accused of remaining “utterly complacent” over the crisis facing Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital.

It comes as figures for the Corsebar Road facility show that A&E performance there is almost as bad as NHS England’s worst performing site.

That is despite the Scottish Government’s repeated assertion that Scotland continues to have the best performing A&Es in the UK.

Neil Bibby, who has previously spoken out on behalf of frustrated workers at the Paisley hospital says the Holyrood response to the issue has been “woeful”.

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Figures for A&E performance at the flagship Paisley site have languished near the bottom of the table since the pandemic began.

We told last week how the four hour emergency wait time indicator showed the RAH has the poorest performance in Scotland – seeing just 51.1 per cent of patients who attended in the week until July 17 in the four hour timeframe,

The figure was the worst in Scotland in the same week and the worst recorded at the RAH since records began in 2017.

Data from NHS England for June revealed that Hull University Teaching Hospitals Trust, which runs Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill hospitals had the worst A&E performance.

Labour’s Paul O’Kane

Some 5,365 patients who visited Hull Royal’s A&E during June waited more than four hours out of 10,460.

Figures also show 427 patients waited more than 12 hours between a decision to admit and admission.

The data means that 51.3 per cent of A&E patients waited longer than four hours.

At the Royal Alexandra, NHS Scotland figures show that of 1,083 patients who attended A&E in the week ending July 24, 481 waited more than four hours,

Just 55.6 per cent of patients – up from 51.1 per cent the week previously – were seen in line with Scottish Government targets, which demand that 95 per cent of emergency cases are admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

But the target has rarely been met since the pandemic began at Scotland’s hospitals, as politicians accuse the Holyrood government of failing to act on the crisis facing Scotland’s NHS.

Some 205 patients waited more than eight hours, with 50 waiting for 12 hours or more.

Labour’s Neil slammed the figures, saying: “This woeful response is utterly complacent and is an insult to both patients and hardworking staff at the RAH.

The RAH is a valued hospital in our community and has helped so many families, including my own, over the years but it is clearly not valued by the Scottish Government. It has become a forgotten hospital in terms of investment and support for staff.”

The Paisley-based West Scotland MSP added: “Current figures show barely half of patients are seen within four hours at Paisley’s emergency department. Sadly this shows waiting times at the RAH are well above the average in both Scotland and England.

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“Hospitals across the country are facing unprecedented challenges but it is clear there is a need for targeted support for our local hospital. There are not enough staff or beds at the RAH and there is not enough social care in the community to allow people to leave hospital when they are fit to do so.”

Health supremo Humza Yousaf at the RAH in March
(Image: Andrew Neil)

Fuming Paul O’Kane, Labour’s spokesman for Public Health and Social Care also called for the Scottish Government’s health supremo Humza Yousaf, who visited the RAH in March to iron out problems, to explain what he has done since.

The Barrhead-based MSP said: “The Scottish government has allowed this A&E crisis to go on for so long that there is really no reason to believe we will see a positive change to this awful situation facing A&E departments across our country and in our local hospital the RAH”

“If Humza Yousaf believes that he has made positive changes or progress of any kind then he should feel confident enough to come back to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, look staff in the eye and tell them that.
“There is no way he could stand there and tell the staff, who have been overstretched and gone above beyond throughout, that all that could be done has been done.”
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has continued to blame a recent fresh surge in Covid cases for poor performance.

A spokesperson for the board, which operates the RAH, said: “With community transmission remaining at high levels, Covid-19 is still very much with us. Our hospitals are near capacity, with large numbers of patients admitted to hospital – either as direct result of the virus, or admitted for another illness but having tested positive with no symptoms.

“There are also significant numbers of ward closures due to Covid-19. This is putting significant pressure on capacity and available bed numbers and is having a knock-on effect at our A&E Departments and assessment units.

“High patient numbers and the logistical challenges this brings to our teams is being further compounded by the difficulties we face due to delayed discharges – a situation which we are working hard to resolve. An additional pressure is the challenge Covid-19 infection is creating across our workforce, with some colleagues absent as a result of the virus.”

He added: “We are sorry if anyone experiences a delay in being treated and we are reminding the public not to come to A&E unless suffering from a very urgent or life-threatening condition.”

Across Scotland, 65 per cent of patients were seen within the four hour target last week.

NHS England figures for June show that on average 27.9 per cent of patients waited longer than four hours to be seen across England’s NHS trusts.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government spokesperson continued to defend the performance of Scotland’s NHS, saying: “The pandemic has presented our NHS with the greatest challenge it has faced in its 74 year existence, despite this, Scotland continues to have the best performing A&Es in the UK, outperforming those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for over six years.
“The number of covid inpatients we are seeing in hospital is has been increasing, resulting in reduced capacity in our hospitals and staff absences, and having a detrimental impact on delays in A&E.

“Despite this extreme pressure, latest stats show more than two-thirds of patients are being seen in our A&E departments within the four-hour target.”

She continued: “Our new Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative programme, supported by £50 million, will support the implementation of a range of measures to reduce A&E waiting times and improve patient experience, including alternatives to hospital-based treatment.

“Through the collaborative work the Scottish Government is supporting NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to implement an improvement plan in advance of winter.”

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Daily Record – Paisley