Waiting times rise again at Paisley’s A&E department

Waiting times at Paisley’s A&E department have increased again as performance wanes across Scotland.

NHS data shows the struggling Royal Alexandra Hospital’s emergency department performance fell again as pressure on staff continues.

The hospital, which has notched up some of the longest waiting times and worst performances of all Scotland’s A&E sites since the pandemic began, improved slightly last week but faced a fresh slump this week.

In the week up to March 20, 61.7 per cent of the 1,095 patients who attended for emergency treatment at the RAH were seen with the four hour timescale.

But the figure dropped again this week, when just 59.6 per cent of the 1,075 residents who sought help at casualty in the week up until March 27 were seen in line with four hour targets.

The Scottish Government calls for A&E departments to admit, transfer or discharge 95 per cent of patients within four hours.

But the target has rarely been met across Scotland since the Coronavirus pandemic began.

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Performance has been particularly poor at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde-run sites the RAH and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital on a number of occasions.

The latest figures show that 434 patients waited more than four hours for emergency treatment at the Corsebar Road hospital, while 157 waited more than eight hours.

Some 27 patients were still waiting after 12 hours in the department.

The Scottish showed that nationally, 68.4 per cent of patients seen in line with four hour targets last week.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf visited the RAH last month in a bid to iron out troubles at the under-pressure site, which has been at the center of much controversy.

Union leaders there have reported a “dire” staffing situation and say workers are “on their knees” trying to keep services running in the wake of the pandemic.

They warned of “chronic” staff shortages taking their toll on personnel and services as long ago as October.

Paisley-based MSP Neil Bibby, who has clashed with health supremo Mr Yousaf over RAH services, said: “Another week, another devastating set of health statistics in Renfrewshire. At the RAH, the percentage of A&E patients being seen within 4 hours is once again below 60 per cent, and well below the Scottish average.

“A shocking 434 patients waited over four hours to be seen, 157 waited over eight hours, 27 waited over 12 hours.

“This comes on top of figures showing that almost 10,000 bed days were lost across the Health Board discharge in February alone due to delayed.”

The Labor West Scotland politician added: “The situation is desperate. Lives are on the line. Our superb RAH staff are working tirelessly. But the Scottish Government are letting them and their patients down disgracefully, leaving services to sink to new lows with each passing week.
“The Health Secretary assured us he had listened to the concerns from the frontline when he visited the RAH last month. There is little sign of that yet. We need action and a viable plan immediately to tackle this crisis and keep people safe.”

The Scottish Government has defended their record on healthcare, which has come under fire.

Mr Yousaf said he is “fully aware of the difficult circumstances that boards and front-line staff are working in”.

He has trumpeted the fact that the NHS has “record levels of staffing”, with increased number for the past 10 consecutive years, now reaching 28,700 more ‘whole-time equivalent’ staff.

The Health Secretary also said they have committed more than £1 billion to the NHS recovery plan to shore up services after covid, which he said is “already paying off” and added: “We recognize the challenges across the United Kingdom and internationally in recruiting enough staff to meet changing service demands.

“That is why, on 11 March, we published a long-term workforce strategy, setting out our clear ambition. We will work closely with health boards and health and social care partnerships to produce new staffing projections in the autumn, based on their three -year workforce plans.”

But critics say Holyrood’s plans do not go far enough, fast enough to prove useful to the NHS.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said a fresh covid spike has piled on the pressure, telling the Express: “Covid-19 is still very much with us.

“While the overall trend suggests the virus is less severe, and our ICUs remain relatively free from Covid-19 patients for the moment, it is still very transmissible. Large numbers of positive patients admitted to hospital – either as direct result of the virus, or admitted for another illness but having tested positive with no symptoms – is putting significant pressure on capacity and available bed numbers.

“This is having a knock-on effect at our A&E Departments and assessment units. Our staff continue to work tirelessly to ensure we’re able to see and treat patients as quickly as possible during this time. We continue to remind the public not to come to A&E unless suffering from a very urgent or life-threatening condition.

“Everyone else who thinks they need urgent medical attention should speak to their GP first, or, call NHS24 on 111.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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