Despite increased patient numbers and as winter approaches, Scotland’s A&E departments continue to outperform NHS England. Meanwhile Scotland’s Unionist media seem scared to predict a crisis after last year’s crisis failed to materialise.

Attendance at A&E departments in Scotland has increased by just under 10% since 2011. See this graph from page 54 at the link below:


I can’t find an actual percentage number quoted for NHS Scotland. Between 2011 and 2017 attendance at NHS England A&E departments had gone up by 8.8% so, being generous, it’s fair to say both NHS England and Scotland have had very similar increases in demand over the last six years.

Despite this increase, NHS Scotland’s A&E departments have outperformed England’s Type 1 A&E departments* by just over 10% this November. Here are the figures for those treated within the 4-hour target.

NHS England   83%

NHS Scotland   93.075%

*Only NHS England Type 1 A&E departments (with consultants) are comparable to the Scottish ones.

Further, this gap is now longstanding. See this Scottish Parliament question and answer:

Question S5W-12886: Jamie Greene, West Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2017

To ask the Scottish Government how it will address A&E waiting times, in light of reports from NHS Scotland that almost 800 people faced long delays in September 2017, an increase of 42% from the previous year.
Answered by Shona Robison (06/12/2017):

The Scottish Government National Unscheduled Care Team is working with hospitals across Scotland to minimise unnecessary long delays in A&E departments and deliver safe, person centred and effective care to every patient, every time through the six essential action improvement programme.

Scotland has outperformed the rest of the UK in terms of performance against the four hour A&E target for more than two and a half years and has the lowest rate of long (12 hour) delays in the UK. Figures released this week (5 December) show that the number of patients delayed more than 8 and 12 hours in October 2017 has reduced compared to the previous month (September 2017) and has also reduced by more than 10% and almost 50% respectively compared to the equivalent period the previous year; the number of patients waiting over 12 hours in October 2017 was the lowest in any October since 2013.

However, we recognise that more needs to be done to sustainably improve performance especially as we go in to the winter period, which is why we have put record investment and increased levels of staffing into hospitals to further reduce waits in A&E departments. I recently announced an additional £5million to support winter resilience this year, over and above the £9 million, announced in May 2017, to support unscheduled care – total of £14 million for winter 2017.
Current Status: Answered by Shona Robison on 06/12/2017

Already, the English media are warning of a winter crisis comparable to last year’s ‘humanitarian crisis’. See, for example:

Hospitals attack ‘barking mad’ NHS target to manage winter crisis … › Society › NHS

18 Nov 2017 – Official edicts to banish long trolley waits and treatment in corridors are deluded, say trusts.

NHS faces even worse winter crisis than last year, watchdog warns … › Society › NHS

16 Nov 2017 – NHS Improvement says failure of hospitals to free up beds means it will struggle to cope with busiest months of the year.

NHS England accused of hiding hospitals’ winter crisis alert figures … › Society › Hospitals

7 Dec 2017 – NHS bosses have been accused of unacceptable secrecy after deciding no longer to reveal how many hospitals come under such pressure during winter that they have to declare an alert. NHS England will not publish this winter’s figures for the number of trusts forced to issue an …


Scotland’s 95% Unionist media seem awful quiet. Are they scared of making a fool of themselves again?



8 thoughts on “Despite increased patient numbers and as winter approaches, Scotland’s A&E departments continue to outperform NHS England. Meanwhile Scotland’s Unionist media seem scared to predict a crisis after last year’s crisis failed to materialise.

  1. macgilleleabhar December 15, 2017 / 5:57 pm

    That’s more good news especially for those using the service.
    I can’t help but think that moral plays an important part in this as well as I imagine the English NHS must be quite dispirited and even the most professional of people perform better with positive support sadly lacking from the current Westminster asset strippers.


  2. johnrobertson834 December 15, 2017 / 8:06 pm

    When I was in hospital myself, I found that virtually none of the staff ever watched TV news or read newspapers for that reason.


  3. Alasdair Macdonald December 15, 2017 / 10:14 pm

    They will not make such dire warnings because they are unlikely to occur. What they will do is what they have been doing for a long time now, is to focus on single cases – e.g. ‘pensioner with dementia left on trolley in corridor for 8 hours’ – and interview angry relatives, who will say, something like, ‘It’s just not good enough, heads MUST roll’. They will then have Willie Rennie, or some other rent-a-quote to claim, ‘this is happening far too often. Shona Robison should consider her position.

    There will be no contextual information. Interviews with staff will be edited, and possibly rearranged, to imply serious failings due to ‘cuts’, ‘the centralisation’ of 999 calls’, management reorganisation’, ‘bureaucracy.’

    It is the ‘generalisation from particulars’ approach.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 December 16, 2017 / 9:30 am

      Yes, lack of context, the mark of inferior journalism. This is taught in schools of journalism


      • Pete December 16, 2017 / 10:13 am

        Are tutors of journalism civilians?


  4. Ludo Thierry December 17, 2017 / 6:34 pm

    Saw a good short piece in the National where the author (and surprisingly gifted stand-up) A.L. Kennedy offering some very positive comparisons between the SNP Scottish budget and the situation down south:

    Author AL Kennedy defends Scotland as more caring than ‘austerity England’
    She added: “The Scottish economy and social contract could act as an example to the UK as a whole – it’s already being attacked for just those reasons. If austerity is a cruel confidence trick perpetrated by ideologues and wealth-addicts, Scotland stepping back from the con shows Wales and England another path and shames the looters at work now.”

    I certainly hope that Nicola considers approaching A.L. to author the Introduction of the Indyref 2 White Paper when it is being prepared for publication.

    Liked by 1 person

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