NHS Borders says “improvements are required” after recording the worst figures in Scotland for A&E waiting times.

Since 2007, the national standard for health boards is that 95 per cent of patients should wait no longer than four hours from arrival to admission, discharge or transfer for A&E treatment.

However, statistics released last Tuesday (April 6) show that NHS Borders met the four-hour target with 74.7 per cent of patients during February this year – the lowest percentage of any Scottish health board.

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NHS Borders’ associate director of acute services, Gareth Clinkscale, said: “We recognise that this statistic does not reflect the efficiency of service and care that we wish to provide for our patients.

“During February, and particularly in the first half of the month, the BGH [Borders General Hospital] remained under significant pressure with large numbers of beds required for patients with COVID-19 which had an impact on our ability to move people through the hospital system as swiftly as we would like.

“That said we recognise that improvements are required.

“We are actively working on these and are seeing things improve.”

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NHS Ayrshire and Arran recorded the next lowest percentage for February at 81.1 per cent, according to the graph produced by Public Health Scotland (PHS).

Meanwhile, at the other end of the scale, NHS Shetland recorded the highest success rate across Scotland’s NHS health boards (98.2 per cent).

The PHS tool shows the compliance rate with the four-hour standard of each health board during every month since July 2007.

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In that time, NHS Borders’ highest four-hour percentage has been 99.5 per cent, recorded in August and September 2007, and July 2011.

February’s figure of 74.7 per cent is the lowest NHS Borders has recorded during that period.

A separate graph displays the number of people who attended A&E each month.

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NHS Borders’ graph shows a steady decline from August 2020 – when 2,520 people attended – to February this year (1,813).

Mr Clinkscale added: “We are also aware that there has been a reluctance amongst some patients to present at the emergency department due to concerns about COVID-19.

“I would like to take the opportunity to stress the importance of seeking the right care from the right place and attending the emergency department if you have an immediately life-threatening condition. Please do not delay in seeking the care that you need.”