The chairman of NHS Shetland has defended the record of the Gilbert Bain Hospital accident and emergency unit following an attack on waiting times by Scotland’s shadow health minister.
Gary Robinson said that the 278 people who spent more than four hours waiting to be dealt with in the department were a very small percentage of patients who attended in 2018.
Robinson was responding to a claim from Highlands and Islands regional MSP David Stewart that patients and staff in Shetland “deserve better than this”.
According to the NHS’s own figures, the numbers of patients waiting more than four hours to be either admitted or sent home rose 16 per cent from 2017 compared with a rise throughout Scotland of 35 per cent in the same period.
Shadow health minister David Stewart MSP said: “Patients and staff in NHS Shetland deserve better than this.
“A&E is the front door of the hospital, and the pulse check of our NHS as a whole. Increasing numbers of people waiting too long at A&E reveals unacceptable pressure in other parts of our health service such as in social care and primary care.”
However, Mr Robinson responded saying: “We are extremely proud of the excellent work done by our A&E team. While we are confident that we deliver an excellent service to the people of Shetland, we will never be complacent and will always strive to do better.”
“In Shetland, because of our remote location, we do sometimes have to hold a patient longer than normal in A&E while they wait for transfer to a hospital on the mainland. This too impacts on the waiting time figures.”
Figures revealed the number of patients waiting over eight hours had risen 167 per cent between 2017 and 2018, but only amounted to affect eight people.