Glasgow & West Scotland

Expert help to tackle A&E waiting times at new Glasgow hospital

South Glasgow University Hospital
Image caption The new £842m hospital began taking patients in April

Government trouble-shooters are being sent to Scotland's newest hospital to help improve accident and emergency (A&E) waiting times.

Latest figures showed the £842m South Glasgow University Hospital was the worst-performing in Scotland for patient waiting times.

Just 78.3% were seen and treated within four hours, well below the 95% target.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said experts would be sent to the hospital to improve management systems.

The government said the aim was to "ensure the smooth transfer of patients through the emergency department".

The 1,109-bed hospital, which began taking patients in April, was built on the site of the Southern General and is one of the largest acute hospitals in the UK.

The new campus replaces the Royal Hospital for Sick Kids at Yorkhill, the Southern General Hospital, the Western and Victoria Infirmaries, and the Mansionhouse Unit.

'Performance dip'

Ms Robison said the migration of services had gone well but some problems were to be expected in the early stages of opening.

"Performance against the four-hour target in accident and emergency has dipped and is some way off the national average," she said.

"We always expected there to be some initial challenges around performance as staff from all three sites got used to working in their new environment. However, in the interests of patients in Glasgow, we have agreed with the board to offer the considerable expertise in unscheduled care at our disposal.

"This move will put in place further on-site support to help the existing teams embed their practices and take forward work to implement the six essential actions for unscheduled care."

Image copyright NHS GGC
Image caption The campus has two hospitals - one for adults and a dedicated children's facility

Ms Robison added: "This additional Scottish government support will assist staff in making the sustainable, long-term adjustments that should see the South Glasgow University Hospital steadily improve their performance against the four-hour target, and sustain the reduction in long waits we have seen."

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde chief executive Robert Calderwood said improving the efficiency of A&E services at the new hospital was "taking longer than expected".

"We therefore welcome the assistance of Scottish government colleagues who will work with our senior managers and clinicians to use their combined expertise to identify further measures to assist with the bedding-in of services and systems and to achieve the improvements in patient flow required," he said.

"I would like to take the opportunity to apologise to those patients who have experienced delays in being admitted to a bed once they had been seen, assessed and diagnosed in our emergency and immediate assessment unit.

"We remain committed to meeting the highest levels of service provision for the patients we serve and every opportunity to improve on our current challenged performance is welcomed."

'Fundamental problem'

Labour's health spokeswoman, Jenny Marra, said the health board was right to call in additional support, and that understanding whether the problems were the result of "inevitable teething problems" or a simple lack of beds was important.

"For this SNP government to be missing its own A&E target by such a long way in the middle of summer tells us we have a fundamental problem. Our hard-working doctors and nurses are clearly being overwhelmed by the number of patients," she said.

The Liberal Democrats said the SNP had not given the hospital adequate support before it opened.

"Once again the SNP have taken their eye off the ball," said health spokesman Jim Hume.

"The Scottish government's delayed response, although welcome, must now deliver real results if we are to have confidence that the poor performance against A&E waiting times will not become a trend," he added.

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said it was clear that the problems at the hospital had "moved beyond teething problems and into the realm of serious failings."

"The Scottish government can't hide behind excuses any longer when staff, unions and organisations have all given warnings that problems needed fixed," she added.

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