HOSPITALS: Deaths following four-hour waits in A&E have risen 164% since 2018

Some of the local hospitals which take patients from West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute. Top of page picture: Shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane has slammed the SNP for failing to get to grips with A&E waiting times

By Bill Heaney

The number of people dying after waiting more than four hours to be seen in Scotland’s A&E departments soared by 164% between 2018 and 2022.

Research by the Scottish Conservatives reveals that in 2018, 281 patients died after waiting in excess of the SNP’s target response time. But by 2022, this had increased to 743.

However, the true death toll is almost certainly far higher, as four health boards – including the biggest, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which covers West Dunbartonshire and parts of Argyll and Bute – – did not respond to the party’s Freedom of Information requests.

Figures from the 10 health boards that did respond show that almost 2,000 patients died after waiting over four hours in A&E between 2018 and 2022 – with more than half of these deaths happening in NHS Lothian.

Shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane has slammed the SNP for failing to get to grips with A&E waiting times, which lead to these “tragic and ultimately avoidable deaths”.

He added that “after 16 years in government, the SNP are clearly out of ideas when it comes to fixing the issues in our NHS”. He urged Michael Matheson to follow the Scottish Conservative vision for a modern, efficient and local health service.

Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “These tragic and ultimately avoidable deaths are a consequence of an NHS that has become permanently overwhelmed on the SNP’s watch.

“Dire workforce planning by successive SNP health secretaries has had a devastating impact on Scotland’s health service, and despite the best efforts of my dedicated colleagues on the frontline, our A&E departments are bearing the brunt of these failings.

“The SNP have missed their own waiting-time targets for more than three years and remain miles off doing so.

“Each death is someone’s friend or loved one. Suffering patients are paying the ultimate price for Humza Yousaf’s inaction as health secretary.

“His replacement Michael Matheson must finally get to grips with this crisis and address wait times to prevent further heart-breaking, unnecessary deaths.

“We urgently need a fresh approach that incorporates the Scottish Conservative vision of a modern, efficient and local NHS.”

Between 2018 and 2022, the number of people dying after waiting over four hours in A&E has increased by 164%. In 2018, 281 patients died after waiting over four hours, by 2022, this had increased to 743. 154 patients have already had to wait in the first two months of 2023. (Scottish Conservative Research, 28 June 2023, Available on request).

In total, almost 2000 patients have died after waiting over four hours in A&E. In total, 1,965 patients have died after a wait of over four hours was recorded, with NHS Lothian being responsible for over half of the deaths, with 1,181. (Scottish Conservative Research, 28 June 2023, Available on request).

This data came from 10 health boards. Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Ayrshire and Arran, Grampian and Lanarkshire all failed to hand over data. (Scottish Conservative Research, 28 June 2023, Available on request).

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