Waiting Times (A and E Departments)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 18th September 2013.

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Photo of Alex Johnstone Alex Johnstone Conservative

14. To ask the Scottish Government what recent action it has taken to reduce waiting times at accident and emergency departments. (S4O-02395)

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has introduced a national improvement programme to support improvements in unscheduled care across NHS Scotland. An expert group identified five key themes of activities that will lead to improved sustainable performance: getting emergency patients to the care that they need; promoting senior decision making; assuring effective and safe care 24/7; making the community the right place; and improving the primary care response.

In June 2013, all national health service boards, including the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS 24, submitted local unscheduled care action plans that describe the whole-system approaches and changes that the boards will implement across those five key themes. The plans and trajectories for improved performance have been reviewed and evaluated, and further revenue of circa £6.3 million has been released this month to support early action towards further improvement in winter planning and sustainability.

Photo of Alex Johnstone Alex Johnstone Conservative

I wish the cabinet secretary luck with that, but the target of 98 per cent of patients being seen within four hours was missed significantly in June this year, with the figure at 94.6 per cent. That was down on the figure for June 2012 of 95.1 per cent. Before the cabinet secretary delivers standard answer number 3 from the Scottish National Party bumper book of ministerial excuses, I remind him that those figures are worse than the figures south of the border. Why is his Government failing?

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

First of all, the figures are not worse than those south of the border. The difference between us and south of the border is that our figures are improving, whereas figures south of the border are getting worse, because the priority there is to privatise the health service. That is not a priority north of the border. As the member should know, our interim target is 95 per cent, which we are achieving, more or less—

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Order, Mr Johnstone.

Photo of Alex Neil Alex Neil Scottish National Party

Well, we are. I think that 94.6 per cent is near enough to 95 per cent, and I assure the member that we are heading towards 98 per cent. Under previous Administrations, the figure was not even measured, except on one occasion, which was in the last year of the Lib-Lab pact in Scotland, when the figure was 86 per cent. So we are doing very well, thank you.