Figures showing casualty departments have just endured their busiest ever September prove action to reduce attendance at A&E is not working, the Scottish Conservatives have said.
ISD Scotland said today that the 142,622 who showed up at A&E in September was a new record, despite SNP pledges to reduce the number of admissions.
It means that month 4,754 people every day attended a casualty department in Scotland, equalling 198 an hour.
In 2008, ministers introduced targets to reduce A&E attendance, claiming it would save money, ease the strain on resources and improve the experience of those who genuinely needed emergency care.
More patients would be persuaded to seek alternatives such as GPs, walk-in pharmacies and minor injuries units, the Scottish Government said.
However, the steady increase in attendances has led to health boards again missing the SNP’s reduced target of 95 per cent of patients being seen within four hours.
The report showed that only 93.5 per cent were seen in that timeframe, with 1,922 waiting for more than eight hours, of whom 242 languished for 12 hours or more.
But with around 70 per cent of patients returning home requiring no further hospital care, it appears that too many people are needlessly attending A&E.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw MSP said:
“The Scottish Government made great play of its plan to reduce A&E attendances some years ago.
“But given we’ve just had the busiest September on record, it’s clear that strategy has been a massive failure.
“With a vast majority of patients being sent home from A&E requiring no further hospital treatment, that certainly suggests the service is being misused by thousands.
“You can’t lambast people for thinking they need to go to casualty, but much more needs to be done to ensure they know there are alternatives to A&E.
“If we can divert needless cases away from A&E, that would allow the under pressure staff to get on and help those who genuinely need it.
“If the Scottish Government starts to deal with this head on, both the NHS and patients would soon see the benefits.”
Notes to editors:
The ISD Scotland report published today revealed September was the busiest ever month:
The Scottish Government introduced a HEAT target designed to reduce A&E admissions between 2009/10 and 2013/14. (p8)
More information about reducing the number of A&E admissions is here: