Local Liberal Democrats have today backed calls for an urgent enquiry into avoidable deaths after the emergency care crisis caused A and E waiting time targets to plummet.
South Lanarkshire Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Robert Brown said that he had come across quite a few people who had had to wait very excessive lengths of time at emergency departments.
Public Health Scotland data for the week ending March 20th showed just 56.3% attendees in Lanarkshire were seen within the 4-hour target. In addition, 549 patients waited more than 8 hours to be seen, and 150 waited for more than 12.
Last week the Royal College of Emergency Medicine warned that 240 people have died this year as a result of delays at A&E departments.
Robert Brown said:
"Local people are extremely worried and upset by these experiences. Ten hours waiting in an emergency department for urgent medical care is no fun for anyone - certainly not for patients but not for hard pressed medical staff either.
Clearly Covid has made things worse but this crisis was brewing long before. The A&E target was missed for years before the pandemic because of poor workforce planning and mismanagement by the SNP government. Staff are more frustrated than anyone because they have been sounding the alarm.
These figures show the government's existing plans have fallen flat. NHS patients and staff are in dire need of new hope. They also deserve an inquiry into the avoidable deaths connected to the emergency care crisis.
The First Minister and the Health Secretary appear to have lost control of the situation and it needs radical and urgent action - action to build up the workforce, to improve organisation, to find new ways to relieve the pressure on emergency departments. I heard recently for example of a hospital in England which set up a GP and nurse service at the emergency department to provide immediate attention to patients who had issues but didn't need specialist emergency care.
This is not easy but the continued inability to access face to face appointments with GPs or to be told to stay away is a cry for help not a solution.
Patients and staff affected by this crisis deserve answers. That is why I am backing calls for an inquiry into avoidable deaths connected to the emergency care crisis and fresh staff and resources to support our overburdened NHS."