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Hit squads sent to new £842m hospital as A&E performance plummets

Only 78.3% of those admitted to A&E at South Glasgow University Hospital were seen within four hours.

New Southern General Hospital in Glasgow wide show Uploaded January 28 2015
© STV

Hit squads will be sent to a new multi-million pound hospital after its accident and emergency waiting time performance plummeted for the second time.

In the latest figures released by the Scottish Government, only 78.3% of those admitted to A&E at the new South Glasgow University Hospital were seen within four hours.

The average for the whole of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was 87.5% while the national average was 92.6%.

The Scottish Government has set an interim goal of treating 95% of people in four hours in advance of meeting the full target of 98%.

For a second week in a row, the newest hospital has returned the lowest A&E performance rate and one of the lowest recorded since the targets were put in place.

The Scottish Government have agreed with NHSGGC to offer the hospital additional expert support to help improve waiting times.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said expert support from Holyrood would help the health board establish and embed improved management systems to ensure the smooth transfer of patients through the emergency department.

Ms Robison said: "The transfer of services across to the new South Glasgow Hospital has been one of the largest and most complex operations NHS Scotland has ever undertaken.

"This is one of the largest hospitals in Europe – it replaces out of date facilities across Scotland and it will transform the care we provide for patients.

"Given the scale of the task, the migration over to the new hospital has gone extremely smoothly with all adult and children’s moves completed on schedule. The staff of NHSGGC must be commended for that.

"Planned and scheduled services are operating very well and in some places, outperforming the rest of the country. Similarly long waits in accident and emergency have reduced significantly on last year. This represents considerable progress already.

"However, performance against the four hour target in accident and emergency has dipped and is some way off the national average.

"We always expected there to be some initial challenges around performance as staff from all three sites got used to working in their new environment, however in the interests of patients in Glasgow, we have agreed with the board to offer the considerable expertise in unscheduled care at our disposal.

"I have been receiving daily updates and the Unscheduled Care team at the Scottish Government have been in regular contact with the board.

"This move will put in place further on-site support to help the existing teams embed their practices and take forward work to implement the six essential actions for unscheduled care."

While the number of four-hour waits in A&E in Glasgow has come under criticism the performance rate for longer visits has steadied.

At the South Glasgow University Hospital only 48 people waited more than eight hours and eight people waited more than 12 hours.

This compares with the NHSGCC average of 68 people over eight hours and eight people more than 12 hours.

In NHS boards across Scotland an average of 152 people waited more than eight hours while 20 people were in A&E for over 12 hours.

New £842m Southern General's A&E waiting times are worst in Scotland

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In the figures released since February 22 the poorest performance by an individual hospital was the Western Infirmary in the week ending March 22, which had a figure of 71.1%.

Of those 16 weeks, only twice have hospitals outwith NHSGGC recorded the poorest performance.

Those were Hairmyres in the week ending April 12 with 78.5% and Crosshouse in the week ending May 10 with 82.8%.

The hospital which recorded the most bottom of the table scores was the Western with six week, before it was shut and transferred to South Glasgow.

South Glasgow has recorded the worst A&E waiting times performance for the last two weeks recorded with 83.2% and 78.3%.

The Health Secretary said while a dip in performance was likely during the first few weeks of the migration, it is a learning curve for NHSGCC to achieve the improvements required.

Ms Robison added: "It is important to remember the service moves to the new hospital are only just complete and hundreds of staff are still coming together from different hospitals and adjusting to new working arrangements as well as new layouts and processes.

"This additional Scottish Government support will assist staff in making the sustainable, long-term adjustments that should see the hospital steadily improve performance against the four hour target, and sustain the reduction in long waits we have seen."

Yorkhill patients begin transfer to new £842m Southern General site

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Robert Calderwood, NHSGGC chief executive said: "It is taking longer than expected for an improved A&E performance to be achieved.

"We therefore welcome the assistance of Scottish Government colleagues who will work with our senior managers and clinicians to use their combined expertise to identify further measures to assist with the bedding-in of services and systems and to achieve the improvements in patient flow required.

"Many thousands of planned patients have already been seen and treated at the hospital within national waiting time guarantees.

"It is therefore extremely disappointing these same successes we have achieved in planned care have not been realised consistently in emergency care as quickly as anticipated.

"I would like to take the opportunity to apologise to those patients who have experienced delays in being admitted to a bed once they had been seen, assessed and diagnosed in our emergency and immediate assessment unit."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "As outlined by NHS chief executive Paul Gray, the legislation set out does not oblige the Scottish Government to collect data on the cost of meeting the last few per cent of the treatment time guarantee.

"The Government is going to establish more clearly what data is available on the cost of meeting the last fractions of TTG and any propositions on changes to targets will be discussed with ministers."

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