NHS Western Isles has robustly defended its record following concerns being raised about poor A&E waiting times.
The issue was sparked by Highlands and Islands MSP and Shadow Minister for Health, David Stewart, who revealed stats showing a sharp increase in waiting times.
He told the Gazette this week: “Data published by ISD Scotland reveals that 102 people waited more than 4 hours at Accident and Emergency last year. This figure represents a 96.2% increase from 2017.”
He added: “Patients and staff in NHS Western Isles deserve better than this.
“I have been concerned about the pressures on the NHS for some time and these figures expose the scale of the challenge NHS staff face in delivering patient care and how badly they have been let down by years of SNP mismanagement of our NHS.
“A&E is the front door of the hospital, and the pulse check of our NHS as a whole.
“Increasing numbers of people waiting too long at A&E reveals unacceptable pressure in other parts of our health service.
“We already know that staff do not feel they are getting enough support and that the level of unfilled health posts is unsustainable. Ministers set the health service targets for staff to hit and then do not deliver the support and resources needed. It simply isn’t good enough.”
In aswer to the MSP’s concerns NHS Western Isles stated that the NHS Scotland standard is for 95% of patients to spend no longer than four hours in A&E, with Health Boards aiming towards achieving 98%.
And that staff at NHS Western Isles and the Western Isles Health and Social Care Partnership have been working very hard to ensure that these target are not only met, but exceeded.
Dr McKellar, NHSWI Medical Director, detailed: “Due to exceptional increased rates of respiratory illness towards the end of 2017 and into the first few months of 2018, NHS Western Isles experiencedincreased levels of presentation at A&E, many of which required admission.
“This led to bed pressures, pressures on diagnostic functions, and on specialists whose input was required in many of these cases.
“The net effect was an increase in patients breaching the four-hour target.
“It is worth noting that despite this increased rate of attendances at A&E in 2018, NHS Western Isles met the 98% four-hour target in every month of that year other than March 2018 which saw 97.5% of patients in the four-hourtarget. In total this resulted in 98.5% of over 6,800 total attendances at A&E during 2018 continued to be seen within the four-hour target.
“The latest data available (as at November 2018) shows that the Western Isles Hospital A&E Department is the best performing in the country, with 98.8% of patients being seen within 4 hours.
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our staff on the excellent job that they have done in ensuring that in spite of particularly challenging periods of increased levels of illness in our communities, they have ensured that patients have been dealt with promptly and safely.”