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Nicola Sturgeon brands patient's 84 hour wait for hospital bed as 'unacceptable'

A political row has erupted after a revelation in the Scottish Parliament that a patient waited 84 hours before being transferred to an inpatient bed at an Ayrshire hospital.

Scottish Conservative and Unionist leader Douglas Ross told Parliament how the unnamed patient endured a wait of three and a half days at Crosshouse Hospital — before being admitted.

It comes off the back of another embarrassment for the Scottish Government with the news that the latest A&E waiting times are their worst ever.

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Ross said: “New information we uncovered reveals just how horrendous the waiting times are at Scottish hospitals.

“An FOI response revealed that one patient at a hospital in Ayrshire had to wait 84 hours for treatment.

“That’s three and a half days!

“First Minister, is that really what anyone in Scotland should go through in 2022?”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that particular case was “clearly an unacceptable situation,” but also “an exceptional situation.”

She added: “I’ve been very clear that the current performances is not acceptable.

“Secondly, I’ve been very clear about the action the government is taking to support those on the frontline to ensure that there is much speedier access to accident and emergency and to health care services more generally.”

NHS Ayrshire & Arran issued a clarification, stressing that it wasn’t a 84 hour wait for treatment, rather that the patient waited this length of time in the department - before being transferred to an inpatient bed.

NHS Ayrshire & Arran also revealed that each patient attending their Emergency Department is "triaged on arrival" and clinical teams "prioritise them" based on clinical need.

Their clinical teams "continuously review and manage risk" and assess for "harm associated with prolonged waits", and ensure that "all patients receive any required treatment" while they are waiting for a transfer to a more "appropriate setting."

Dr Crawford McGuffie, medical director said: "NHS Ayrshire & Arran is committed to providing safe and effective health care and treatment for our population in as timely a way as possible.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout 2021/22 we have experienced very high pressure across all our health and care services.

"At times, we experienced a high demand for our unscheduled care services and our staff worked hard to assess and treat patients as quickly as possible. Each patient attending our Emergency Departments (EDs) is triaged on arrival and clinical teams prioritise our patients based on clinical need.

"We are aware that, unfortunately, sometimes patients have waited significantly longer than we would wish and we unreservedly apologise for that.

"Our clinical teams continuously review and manage risk and assess for harm associated with prolonged waits. The patients who are delayed within the system have been assessed and have processes for review that mitigate the risk of these delays.

"Wherever possible, additional staff are deployed to support these patients and our staff. This is not the care we aim to provide and our daily focus on discharges supports the flow of patients from our emergency departments."

He added: "I would like to thank patients for their help and understanding as we continue to work under extremely difficult circumstances. If we all work together we can ensure that our Emergency Departments are there to look after those who need them most."

Statistics published on Tuesday show that during the week ending 11 September, none of the A&E departments in South Scotland met the Scottish Government’s legally binding target of 95 per cent of patients being admitted to the hospital, transferred or discharged within four hours of arriving at A&E.

Just 67 per cent of patients in Ayrshire and Arran were seen within the four-hour standard time.

The total number of patients in NHS Ayrshire & Arran who waited more than eight hours was 294, while 177 waited more than 12 hours.

South Scotland Labour List MSP Colin Smyth said: “These statistics are proof of the Scottish Government’s life-threatening inaction.

“Far too many people in our area are waiting an unacceptable length of time for emergency care and staff are being overwhelmed because there simply aren’t enough of them. Make no mistake – lives will be lost as a result.

“Long waits in A&E used to be a sign that there were problems and pressures elsewhere in the NHS system, but the SNP have ignored the warnings. Now our NHS is in perpetual crisis with excessive waiting times at A&E departments now the norm.”

South Scotland Conservative List MSP, Sharon Dowey said: “These figures are deeply concerning and are devastating for both the patients and the staff of NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s A&E departments.

“It is completely unacceptable that at the height of summer, when things should be better in our A&E departments, patients are waiting so long to be seen.

“These ever-increasing delays only result in unnecessarily high patient deaths in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

“Our NHS staff members continue to provide patients with excellent care. Unfortunately, the SNP Government’s poor strategy to address this situation continues to let them down.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Our accident and emergency departments are working under significant pressure, and in common with health services across the rest of the UK and globally, the impact of the pandemic continues to affect services.

“The current level of performance is not acceptable, that is why I am determined to improve performance and am working closely with boards on a number of measures to reduce pressure on hospitals.”

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