By Lucy Ashton

Michael Matheson must act now to tackle the continuing NHS crisis as thousands of Scots have been left ‘high and dry’ in waiting rooms while delayed discharge remains at unacceptably high levels, Jackie Baillie has said.

Statistics published this week have revealed that at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital more than a third of people (37.9 percent) who have attended since the start of the year have had to wait longer than the Scottish Government target of four hours.

The number of people having to wait longer than the four-hour standard has also risen from 6330 last year to 6542 during the same period this year (January to April inclusive).

Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie and SNP Health Secretary Michael Matheson.

At the same time, statistics show a month on month increase in the number of bed days lost to delayed discharge and levels remain far higher than pre-pandemic levels, with 162,604 days spent in hospital by people across Scotland whose discharge was delayed within the first three months of 2023 alone – a startling 26.9 percent increase on the same period in 2019.

BMA Scotland has repeatedly said that the NHS crisis cannot be resolved without ending delayed discharge with Dr Iain Kennedy stating: “The key to unlocking the front door of our hospitals lies at the back door. The exit block is the real reason for many of the issues at the front door of our hospitals.”

Dumbarton constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie, said: “Michael Matheson inherited an NHS in crisis from Humza Yousaf – but it is all too clear that he is failing to get the situation under control.

“That the number of people waiting longer than the Scottish Government target time within A&E at the RAH including many people from Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond, has risen year on year is extremely concerning. Lives are at risk due to this SNP government’s chronic failure to support frontline NHS staff.

“Despite warning after warning that the issue of delayed discharge is at the root of our NHS crisis, this SNP government has failed to heed the BMA and act.

“Thousands of people have been left high and dry by this failed SNP government and their failure to act to end delayed discharge.

“More of the same failure simply won’t cut it – it’s high time we got this deadly crisis under control, fix delayed discharge and invest in primary and social care to take the burden off of A&E.

“Matheson must act now to support heroic NHS staff and end this NHS crisis once and for all.”

 During March 2023:

  • 68% of attendances at A&E services were seen and resulted in a subsequent admission, transfer or discharge within 4 hours.
  • 14,419 (11.6%) patients spent more than 8 hours in an A&E department.
  • 6,094 (4.9%) patients spent more than 12 hours in an A&E department.


During week ending 23 April 2023:

  • 66.2% of ED attendances were seen and resulted in a subsequent admission, transfer or discharge within 4 hours.
  • 2,652 patients spent more than 8 hours in an Emergency Department.


Long waits in A&E, Jan-Mar 2023
Over 8 hours 39,067
Over 12 hours 17,677
Comparison of waits over 8 hours in A&E
March 2021 1,390
March 2022 11,148
March 2023 14,419


 Delayed discharge 

Number of delayed bed days occupied
Jan-Mar 2019 128,095
Jan-Mar 2023 162,604
% change 26.9


Meanwhile, Jackie Baillie has praised staff at the Vale of Leven Hospital, pictured right,  as it was revealed that more than 7500 people have attended the out-of-hours unit in the past year.

Figures released to the Dumbarton constituency MSP through Freedom of Information legislation show that 7637 patients have been seen at the facility since the start of March 2022 up until the end of February 2023.

Some 1932 of those who attended were walk-ins, making up a quarter of all patients during the last year.

In February 2021, the out-of-hours unit was fully reinstated having been subject to disruption over the previous years.  The service then became available across evenings, weekends and overnight.

Problems had arisen due to the difficulty in finding enough medical professionals to staff the service. However NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed to the Dumbarton constituency MSP that there are currently 34 GPs contracted to work a four-week rota as well as 10 GPs who work as and when required.

The health board also confirmed that, since the service was fully reinstated in February 2021, there “has never been a gap in service and there have always been GPs available to provide continual running of out-of-hours via the VOLGP Integrated Care service”.

Jackie Baillie said: “It is pleasing that, since the out-of-hours service at the Vale of Leven Hospital was properly reinstated in February 2021 that patients have been able to access the care they should expect locally.

“It is testament to the hard-working staff at the Vale of Leven Hospital and the GPs responsible for the out-of-hours service that this has been sustained over the last two years following a prolonged period of uncertainty.

“The important aspect now is that this service continues and that patients receive care when they need it. In the past the service was patchy and often cancelled due to a lack of staffing.

“The SNP have already cut £65 million from the primary care development fund in the last financial year which threatens the availability of local health services.

“I will do all that I can to support the hard working staff at the Vale of Leven hospital and welcome the improvement in the out-of-hours service.”

Top of page picture: The Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, which takes patients from West Dunbartonshire and Argyll.

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