A&E waiting times improve sharply in Scotland, as patient numbers fall

Waiting times at Scotland's accident and emergency departments have improved sharply, according to the latest figures, but less than two-thirds were seen within four hours.

Statistics published by Public Health Scotland on Tuesday show 64% of A&E patients were seen within four hours in the week to January 15 - an increase from 57.2% in the previous seven days. The Scottish Government aims to have 95% of patients seen and subsequently admitted or discharged within four hours.

Alongside the improvement in waiting times, attendances have seen a sustained drop. The number of patients at A&E fell from a peak of 26,532 in the week to December 16 to 20,580 in the most recent figures - the lowest in more than a year.

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The number waiting four hours fell from 9,821 in the previous week to 7,419 in the week to January 15, while the number waiting more than eight hours dropped from 4,403 to 3,012. Some 1,501 people waited longer than 12 hours at A&E, according to the figures, a drop from 2,261 the previous week.

Scottish Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said the "modest improvement" - which he attributed to the work of NHS staff - was "almost certainly down to a fall in attendance rates".

"Due to Humza Yousaf's overwhelming failures, many patients are clearly choosing not to overwhelm A&E services further, which could potentially put their lives at risk," he said. "Also, if they are choosing to go to their GPs instead, it will merely transfer pressure from one overstretched part of the NHS to another.

Dr Gulhane added: "No amount of spinning by Humza Yousaf can ignore the fact that these figures are still miles short of being anywhere near good enough. He has lost the trust of frontline staff and patients and must be sacked by Nicola Sturgeon immediately."

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: "We cannot afford to be complacent about the state of our A&E," she said. "The SNP will tell us that these figures represent an improvement, but we should never allow them to let thousands of people waiting too long to be normalised. Patient and staff wellbeing is still in danger, lives are being lost and staff are still under extreme pressure."

A&E waiting times have improved.

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