THE CHAIRMAN of NHS Shetland has defended the record of the Gilbert Bain accident and emergency (A&E) unit following an attack on waiting times by Scotland’s shadow health minister.
Gary Robinson said that the 278 people who spent more than four hours waiting to be dealt with in the department was a very small percentage of patients who attended in 2018.
Robinson was responding to a claim from Highlands and Islands regional MSP David Stewart that patients and staff in Shetland “deserve better than this.”
According to the NHS’s own figures the numbers of patients waiting more than four hours to b e either admitted or sent home rose 16 per cent from 2017 compared with a rise throughout Scotland of 35 per cent in the same period.
Stewart said : “Patients and staff in NHS Shetland 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 such as in social care and primary care.”
“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.”
Robinson responded that over the last five years, the four-hour waiting target had been met in more than 96 per cent of cases in the A&E department.
He said: “We are extremely proud of the excellent work done by our A&E team. While we are confident that we deliver an excellent service to the people of Shetland, we will never be complacent and will always strive to do better.”
Robinson said that a number of procedures were carried out on patients attending emergency departments before they were admitted to hospital, directed to another service or discharged home.
These included triage to assess the seriousness of their condition, diagnostic tests and possible treatment within the department itself.
“In Shetland, because of our remote location, we do sometimes have to hold a patient longer than normal in A&E while they wait for transfer to a hospital on the mainland. This too impacts on the waiting time figures,” added Robinson.
The figures also showed the number of patients waiting over eight hours had risen 167 per cent between 2017 and 2018, but this amounted to only eight people.