Salmond defends A&E waiting times

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Alex Salmond has defended his government's record on accident and emergency departments' waiting times during first minister's questions on 28 February 2013.

More people are waiting for longer periods in hospital emergency departments, according to recent figures.

One in 10 admissions were not seen within a target of four hours between October and December.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said it was a busy winter for A&E departments and he would be ploughing in £6m to deal with the 2013 winter period.

The Scottish government announced it was investing £50m over three years in an overhaul of emergency care.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont asked the first minister when the last time the four hours target had been met for Scotland as a whole.

Mr Salmond said the number of emergency units across Scotland had doubled in the last few years and another 200 staff had been recruited in A&Es around Scotland which was a "serious response" to the issue.

Ms Lamont said the first minister did not answer the question and informed the chamber the last time the target had been met across Scotland was in September 2009, "more than three years of letting patients down".

The Scottish Labour leader went on to accuse the government of "denying the sick and the vulnerable the treatment they so desperately need."

Mr Salmond hit back saying the health service was improving and the average waiting times in Scotland for all patients had reduced from 40 days to 32 days since 2008.

The first minister also said his government had maintained the revenue budget of the NHS, a policy not supported by Labour in 2007 or the run up to 2011.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said "thousands of people across Scotland are waiting far to long for treatment" adding that Auditor General Caroline Gardiner had told MSPs information available on waiting lists had not been acted upon and should have "rung warning bells to this government".

The first minister began first minister's questions by announcing that crofters on Raasay were to keep their sporting rights for one more year.

The Scottish government had been accused of behaving like an absentee landlord after leasing the shooting and fishing rights on the island to a company in Ayrshire.

Mr Salmond told MSPs that the new contract had been withdrawn and that the crofters' lease was to be extended for another year.

Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick reminded the government "any major policy announcements should in the first instance be made to parliament" and called on the government to "reflect carefully" over the method it used to make announcements and to "treat this parliament with the respect it deserves".

Ms Marwick was responding to a point of order from Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott, who highlighted a discussion document on regulation from Finance Secretary John Swinney he said was discussed first on BBC Radio Scotland.

Mr Scott said the "Scottish government treats this parliament with contempt".

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