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Thousands forced to wait more than four hours in A&E

Scotland's hospitals struggled to cope with demand over the festive period.

Waiting: The health secretary said flu patients should get the 'right care'.
Waiting: The health secretary said flu patients should get the 'right care'.

Thousands of patients were forced to wait more than four hours in accident and emergency (A&E) wards over the festive period, official statistics show.

Around 5600 patients waited beyond the targeted four-hour period to be admitted, transferred or discharged after reporting to the hospitals between Christmas Day and Hogmanay.

The Scottish Government expects NHS Scotland to ensure 95% of patients are seen within the time frame but official statistics released on Tuesday show just 78% were during the period.

A total of 272 patients were forced to wait 12 hours to be seen, with more than half of these patients attending NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Lothian hospitals.

NHS Forth Valley was the poorest performing health board with just 57.3% of patients dealt with within four hours.

The national result is a significant decline on the same comparable week in the previous year when 92.5% of patients were dealt with by the targeted time.

NHS Scotland figures and the health secretary, Shona Robison, pointed to an increase in flu as part of the reason for the poor results.

Robison said: "Scotland's accident and emergency departments are continuing to outperform those across the rest of the UK - and indeed it is to the great credit of NHS staff that even at the height of these exceptional winter pressures, almost eight out of ten people who attended A&E were admitted, transferred or discharged within the four hour target.

"I've heard an overwhelming number of reports from clinicians about how flu and respiratory illness, combined with other winter pressures and exceptional and sustained levels of demand, is changing the way they are treating patients arriving at A&E.

"It is crucial that patients with complex care needs and flu receive the right care, not simply the fastest."

NHS Scotland has not met the A&E waiting time target in a single week since July.

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