NHS admits frustration over waiting times

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NHs Borders have attributed their failure to hit Government waiting targets nine out of 12 months in 2012 to “a challenging year” not helped by another outbreak of Norovirus and adverse weather.

The health board responded to concerns raised by Berwickshire MSP John Lamont after statistics published by ISD Scotland showed NHS Borders frequently failed to see 98 per cent of patients admitted into the accident and emergency department at Borders General within four hours.

In contrast to 2011, where the Government guidelines were reached in six of the nine months, last year the health board could only manage to equal or better the benchmark in June, August and October with results of 98.9 per cent 98 per cent and 98.5 per cent respectively.

And perhaps most worryingly, in April last year 153 of the 2,224 people admitted to A&E weren’t treated within the expected four hours, equating to a figure of 93.1 per cent; very nearly five per cent less than the national target.

In 2011 the health board’s waiting time result never dropped lower than 96 per cent and John Lamont said the latest ISD figures gave cause for concern and not just on a local level but nationally as well.

“Since 2008 there has been an increase of over 70,000 people seeking emergency care, and it is clear that NHS Borders struggled to deal with these patients as quickly as they should have. To miss the target set out by the Scottish Government 75% of the time is clearly not good enough, and the Scottish Government need to explain how they have allowed this to happen.

“Too many patients who are seeking medical attention are being asked to wait longer than they should. This could not only have an effect on their wellbeing but also on the confidence residents have in their local health service.

“There undoubtedly needs to be a change to see these figures improved, especially when the year before targets were seemingly being met with far more ease. While NHS Borders is by no means the worst performing region, we need to discover why this discrepancy has occurred.”

“Something has clearly changed for the worse, and the Scottish Government need to explain why these targets are being missed not only in the Borders but across Scotland. The SNP need to explain why their own targets in the Borders are not being met.”

Responding to the local MSP’s worries, NHS Borders chief operating officer, Jane Davidson said: “This year has been challenging in terms of managing attendance at A&E, especially in the months associated with Norovirus and adverse weather. Patients are clinically assessed shortly after arrival at A&E, however it is frustrating that only an average of 96% of the time we have been able to discharge or admit patients within the expected timescale.”