THE NUMBER of people forced to wait for more than four hours at A&E in Ayrshire and Arran has failed to meet the national target for the first time since 2007, with the number waiting more than 12 hours at a five-year high.
A Scottish Government report released last week revealed only 87.8 per cent of patients were either admitted, transferred for treatment or discharged from hospital within four hours of arrival in December – despite national standards setting this figure at more than 10 per cent higher.
And, in the same four weeks of 2012, 24 patients had a more than 12-hour wait at Accident and Emergency departments in NHSAAA.
The health board was one of only four of Scotland’s 14 not to deal with more than 87 per cent of A&E cases within four hours, with even the country’s largest health board, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, meeting the target time in 90.4 per cent of cases.
At University Hospital Ayr, more than 500 people had to wait more than four hours wait for emergency treatment in December 2012 – only 85.7 per cent being seen within the target treatment window – while, at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock, nearly 700 of their 5971 attendees were also forced to wait for longer than the recommended time.
For both hospitals, December’s figure was their worst since July 2007; however 100 per cent of patients presenting at Girvan Community Hospital’s minor injuries unit received emergency care within a four-hour time frame.
Only four Scottish health board areas – NHS Tayside, Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles – exceeded the 98 per cent Scottish Government target for dealing with A&E arrivals.
But there was some good news for NHSAAA as the health board was listed as one of 12 Scottish health boards meeting targets on patient treatment journeys.
The Information Services Division report found NHS Ayrshire and Arran to have exceeded the 90 per cent 18-week target for patient treatment journeys set by the Scottish Government – from initial consultant referral to start of treatment – with a figure of 91.8 per cent.
With only 496 patient journeys taking longer than the 18-week recommended period in December last year, NHSAAA was the eighth best performing health board in the country in terms of waiting times – despite covering a significantly larger area than some of those with lower figures.
Only two health boards failed to meet the 90 per cent national target on waiting times – first achieved in December 2011 – with NHS Forth Valley and NHS Lothian falling below par by 6.7 and 2.4 per cent respectively.
NHSAAA’s director of integrated care and emergency services, Liz Moore, apologised that some patients in Ayrshire had had to wait longer than they should.
“We know that visiting an Accident and Emergency department can be a stressful time for patients and we do our best to prioritise patients who are most ill,” she said.
“We are very grateful to our staff who have worked tirelessly to deal with the unprecedented increase in attendances, and our priority continues to be to provide the best possible care for people when they are ill.”