Labour spokesperson Jackie Baillie MSP, the RAH and Health Secretary Michael Matheson.

By Lucy Ashton

Health Secretary Michael Matheson must end the chaos in A&E to save lives, Scottish Labour has warned today, as new analysis estimates that long emergency department waits resulted in up to 692 excess deaths since the beginning of 2023.

In the week ending 07 May 2023, only 65.8% of Emergency Department attendances were seen and admitted, transferred or discharged within the four hour standard, leaving over 9,000 patients waiting longer.

Shockingly, 2,534 –  nearly one in 10 – patients were forced to wait over 8 hours, with 806 patients languishing there waiting for over 12 hours before being admitted, transferred, or discharged.

At the flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital the situation was even worse, as only 48.9% of patients were seen and admitted, transferred, or discharged within the four-hour standard period.

Earlier this year, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine calculated that there will be an excess death for every one in 72 patients who spend between 8 and 12 hours in an Emergency Department.

Based on the numbers waiting over 8 hours in Scotland since the start of 2023, this would equate to up to 692 excess deaths in Scotland.  

Dumbarton MSP and Scottish Labour Health Spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “This is a stark and shocking failure from a government that has pledged for months to get a handle on the crisis facing our A&E.

“These are not mere numbers – these are vulnerable people in need who have been failed by this SNP government. The fact that 9,000 patients have waited over 4 hours to be seen should never be accepted as the norm.

“Treatment time standards exist for a reason – it has been shown that long waits result in worse outcomes for patients and even avoidable deaths.

“The damage long waits cause cannot be understated. Hardworking staff are being pushed to breaking point and they are receiving nothing but warm words from the SNP.

“The SNP’s strategy of managed decline cannot be allowed to extend to our NHS, and their incompetence is costing lives.

“Michael Matheson must work to reverse the damage done by his predecessor by ending delayed discharge, sorting primary care, and ending the chaos in our A&E once and for all.”

Responding to new figures showing that only 65.8% of patients were seen across Scotland within the 4 hour target last week, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton, pictured left,  said:  “The SNP/Green Government desperately needs to wake up to the reality of the crisis in Scotland’s A&E departments. For all the talk and plans from ministers the situation has barely shifted in months.

“We need to see urgent action from Michael Matheson to resolve the crisis in our A&E departments. That should start by dropping his government’s opposition to our constructive proposals such as an urgent inquiry into the hundreds of avoidable deaths linked to the emergency care crisis, a burnout prevention strategy and a health and social care staff assembly.”

Weekly A&E stats, w/e 7 May, 2023

  • There were 26,572 unplanned attendances.
  • 17,492 (65.8%) were seen and resulted in a subsequent admission, transfer or discharge within 4 hours.
  • 2,534 patients spent more than 8 hours in an ED.
  • 806 patients spent more than 12 hours in an ED.

Source: https://www.publichealthscotland.scot/data-and-intelligence/ae-activity/#section-1

 Excess deaths

The RCEM has explained that for every 72 patients who waited 8-12 hours from their time of arrival in Emergency Departments, there would be an ‘extra’ or excess death.  For the week ending 8 January 2023 to week ending 7 May 2023, 49,818 patients have waited over 8 hours to be seen and admitted, transferred or discharged from hospital – applying this formula would equate to up to 692 excess deaths.


One comment

  1. Get used to it folks. The chief economist for the Bank of England, a Huw Pill recently said that Britons need to get used to the fact that they are going to get poorer with reduced standards of living.

    Under-resourced NHS, long A and E wait times, excess deaths, we need to get used to it. And meanwhile the corporate energy companies like BP, Shell etc are making astronomical profits running into the hundreds of billions per quarter whilst fuel poverty stalks energy rich Scotland.

    And how many excess deaths did cold houses cause for the elderly in our society. It’s a big number but hey, folks need to get used to it, we’ve a war to fight, and corporate profits beyond avarice to make.

    High time that our political pygmies stopped playing ya-boo politics and addressed the real issues of where our wealth goes and what it is spent on.

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