The four-hour waiting time target for patients who attend an A&E in Ayrshire has slipped to just 77.2 per cent.
Snapshot figures, which capture the week ending September 12, show that the region is missing the Scottish Government’s standard of 95 per cent by a big margin.
Previous figures, between the period August 8 to August 15, showed that only 78.6 per cent of those presenting at an Ayrshire and Arran A&E were dealt with within four hours.
Now the percentage figure is even lower.
South Scotland Labour MSP, Colin Smyth, has expressed concern that none of the health boards in the south of Scotland have met the Scottish Government’s Accident and Emergency waiting time targets.
New statistics show NHS Ayrshire and Arran saw 77.2 per cent of patients within four hours, this dropped to 65 per cent for NHS Borders, 68.5 per cent for NHS Lanarkshire and 66.1 per cent in NHS Lothian.
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The 95 per cent figure has not been met nationally since July 2020.
Colin Smyth said: “The crisis in our NHS is spiralling further and further out of control and these latest figures are very concerning.
“Lives are now being jeopardised on a daily basis due to the failure of this SNP government to properly support the NHS.
“Staff are doing a fantastic job in incredibly tough circumstances and I want to say a huge thank you to each and every one of them.
“But the lack of capacity means that the local health service is often having to choose between treating Covid and treating other conditions and that is leading to a massive increase in demand for Accident and Emergency services.
“The SNP government must heed the warnings of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and act now to secure more acute beds for the NHS.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The COVID pandemic has inevitably affected A&E attendance and the pressure is being felt across the UK.
“Scotland’s core A&E departments have continued to outperform those in the rest of the UK for more than six years.
“Our NHS staff have faced unprecedented pressures over recent weeks as they work tirelessly and consistently to respond to the pandemic whilst continuing to provide vital treatment and optimal patient care.
“We are in daily contact with every board and are monitoring the situation closely.
“As part of the NHS Recovery Plan we have committed £27 million towards the Redesign of Urgent Care to ensure people receive the right care, at the right place and avoid unnecessary hospital attendance.
“Weekly performance is impacted due to a range of challenges including high attendances, staffing pressures due to isolation and annual leave and the continued requirement for infection control precautions that is affecting the time people need to spend in A&E. This is combined with increased levels of people attending A&E who are much sicker and require higher levels of care.
“To minimise pressures, we have committed £12 million in additional funding to health boards across Scotland to support non-COVID emergency care.
“The boards are recruiting additional staff with this funding and we expect to see an impact of our rapid action shortly.
“Boosting staffing levels will help put measures in place to reduce waiting times for urgent or emergency treatment and increase available beds.
“We have also provided £80 million to boards this financial year to support their elective activity and specifically target the backlog of care including appointments, diagnostic testing and surgery, as part of the broader mobilisation of out NHS.
“We are working closely with those sites facing the greatest challenges to ensure rapid recovery plans are in place and are in contact daily.
“To support improvements in emergency and urgent care waiting times we are working with Health Boards and their partners through our Unscheduled Care Improvement Programme to improve flow through the hospital by ensuring effective processes are in place to reduce the length of time people need to spend in hospital and ensure they are discharged as soon as they are medically fit.”
NHS Ayrshire and Arran has apologised to patients who’ve had to wait longer than would have normally been and say they are “determined to continue to make every effort” in finding ways to eliminate waits for patients and to “provide quality care within the waiting times standards.”
Dr Crawford McGuffie, Medical Director at NHS Ayrshire and Arran added: “At times, we experience a high demand for our urgent and unscheduled care services.
“All staff work tirelessly during these periods of heightened activity to provide care to our patients in the safest way possible.”
SNP MSP Elena Whitham, whose Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley constituency takes in Ayr Hospital, said: “This pandemic has been the biggest shock that our NHS and wider health care services have faced in our lifetime and across the health care system, primary care, hospital and ambulance staff are working round the clock to deliver care to those who need it and they deserve our thanks.
“Across Ayrshire, 8 out of 10 patients are being seen within the four hour target and while this is below the 95% target, we have to be cognisant of the challenging times we are in as the NHS continues to deal with this global pandemic.
“I welcome The Scottish Government’s NHS Recover Plan which is backed by more than £1 billion of investment providing targeted investment to increase capacity, reform the system and get everyone the treatment they need as quickly as possible.”
And Ayr SNP MSP Siobhian Brown said: “The global pandemic has created the most challenging crisis in the history of the NHS with Scotland’s health boards facing unprecedented pressures. This has been felt acutely at A&E departments who are often, alongside colleagues in the ambulance service, the frontline in healthcare for those with the greatest of needs. That is why the SNP has committed to increasing frontline NHS spending by 20 per cent in the next parliament, delivering record investment in the health service – this means increasing frontline funding by £2.5 billion.
“The NHS Recovery Plan also sets out a vision for health and care over the next five years, included in that is £23 million worth of funding to redesign urgent care – with rapid access to a senior clinician via a telephone or video consultation where possible, therefore reducing the pressure on A&E.
“Also, this week it was announced that an additional £20 million will be invested in the Scottish Ambulance Service to help improve response times, alleviate pressures and improve staff wellbeing.
“The funding is in addition to the £20 million previously announced as part of the NHS Recovery Plan.
“Our NHS workers are continuing to deal with the effects of COVID-19 and patients are being treated alongside emergency, trauma and urgent cases. With high levels of occupancy across hospital beds this has a knock-on effect and causes longer waiting times in A&E. Hospital staff have also reported patients presenting to emergency departments with very complex conditions because they have held off due to COVID-19 but there has also been an increase in those who do not need admission.
“Those patients are being urged to consider alternative treatment routes such as NHS 24 on 111, their GP or pharmacist.
“I continue to pay tribute to our healthcare workers and I cannot express the gratitude I feel for the hard work and dedication they have shown to their profession during the pandemic and at all other times.”
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