NEW FIGURES have shown a "really worrying situation" in the emergency department at the Victoria Hospital.

Between April and September, patients have waited longer and longer in Fife's A&E despite the performance improving in nearby Tayside.

Alex Rowley, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, has called on Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to identify what's working for NHS Tayside and get NHS Fife to adopt it in the Kingdom's hospitals.

He said: “This is a really worrying situation that requires the SNP government to set out a clear plan of action to address the challenges.

“That would require Mr Yousaf and NHS Fife to acknowledge the scale of the problems and to bring forward actions to address the main issues.

“We see that NHS Tayside has much better response times every month and I have asked Humza Yousaf to look at what they are getting right and roll it out into Fife."

Over the five month period in Fife, 67 per cent of people attending A&E were seen within four hours – the Scottish Government target is 95 per cent.

The number of patients waiting more than eight hours jumped from 316 in April to 785 in September while those waiting more than 12 hours increased from 73 to 275.

Mr Rowley said there was also a need to address the major problems throughout the health and social care sectors that are contributing to these delays.

NHS Fife's director of acute services, Claire Dobson, said: "We are acutely aware of the scale of the pressures on our services – these pressures are not simply limited to the emergency department and affect the entirety of the healthcare system.

"While it is true that more patients are waiting to be assessed and either admitted or discharged, it remains the case that those who are most unwell are prioritised to be assessed very quickly on arrival at the emergency department.

"Patients are triaged to ensure those who require immediate intervention can receive this – regrettably, that means patients whose condition is less serious are currently likely to wait longer.

"NHS Fife has historically performed better than the national average for emergency department waiting times and performance at present is reflective of the unprecedented demand we have seen over the course of this year so far.

"That does not mean we are accepting of patients waiting longer and work is ongoing across a range of areas to improving patient flow through our hospitals, from initial admission right through to eventual discharge.

“Importantly, patients who require admission and are required to wait within the department are monitored appropriately and receive good quality care throughout their time in the emergency department.”

Mr Yousaf said: “While Scotland’s A&E performance continues to be the best of all four nations, our performance is not where I want it to be.

"A&E departments continue to experience significant pressure and, in common with healthcare systems in the UK and globally, the pandemic is still impacting services.

“I have been clear that recovery will not happen overnight and we are working to reduce system pressure as we enter what will be an extremely challenging winter period.

“We are supporting services through our £600 million winter plan which will see us recruit 1,000 new NHS staff, including up to 750 frontline nurses from overseas.

"Our £50 million Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative looks to drive down A&E waits by offering alternatives to hospital, such as Hospital at Home; directing people to more appropriate urgent care settings and scheduling urgent appointments to avoid long waits.

“A&E pressures are being driven by delays in discharge elsewhere in our hospitals. That’s why a key focus of our winter plan is on social care and actions to encourage integration authorities to help ease delays.”