Salmond criticised over A&E waiting times


Alex Salmond has defended his government's record on accident and emergency waiting times, under criticism from all three opposition party leaders, during first minister's questions on 8 May 2014.

The number of patients waiting too long in accident and emergency departments has nearly tripled in five years, according to Audit Scotland.

Caroline Gardner, auditor general for Scotland, said: "Delays in A&E can be a sign of pressure across health and social care.

"While there has been improvement in performance, such as the progress made in tackling the longest waits in A&E, performance against the target still remains lower than it was when we last reported."

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said the improvement was against the "worst ever statistics in relation to this matter" and demanded to know why "waiting times had trebled on his watch".

Mr Salmond hit back saying the statistics for 2006-7, during the last Labour led administration, had in fact been worse and said she should acknowledge the government's performance was "substantially better" than when she had been a minister.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson called on the first minister to take responsibility for missing A&E targets, even when lowered, and for "everybody expecting to wait almost half an hour longer than five years ago".

Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrats leader, said the shortage of hospital beds was a major problem affecting A&Es.

Mr Salmond said the SNP had protected the health service budget and the number of staff working in the NHS was now higher as a virtue of that investment.

He pointed to the emergency health action plan, announced by the health secretary, which was already making a difference and had been "welcomed across the NHS".

Earlier the first minister outlined a pilot scheme allowing people to find out whether their partner has a history of domestic violence, known as Clare's Law.

It is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 2009.

The issue of a Scottish version of Clare's Law had been raised with the first minister by Ruth Davidson in March.

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