Is it time for NHS Fife to take tips from Tayside to tackle A&E crisis?


Five waits in the emergency room are still a concern a year later.

The performance has been the subject of ongoing criticism since last year.

Data released this week shows that emergency departments have once again fallen below national standards.

And an MSP from Fife has asked if it’s time for Fife to look to Tayside to see if there’s anything to learn.

What do the new figures show? And what does NHS Fife say?

Emergency department wait times remain a concern.

Accident and emergency department wait times across the country are published weekly and we also have our own charts so you can compare wait times.

The Scottish Government has a standard that 95% of patients should be seen within four hours.

From the summer of 2021, the national value fell below 80%.

And a few months later, the government issued new guidance to manage waiting times.

Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf announced a new strategy to tackle waiting times.

It was based in part on the success of policies that have been in place in NHS Tayside hospitals since 1998.

As part of this, the Flow Navigation Center (FNC) used by NHS Tayside was cited as playing a key role.

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What do A&E figures show for Fife?

We looked at emergency department data from Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy and Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, as well as national figures.

Our chart below shows the monthly percentage of patients seen within the four hour standard.

From June to September 2021, Fife’s performance was consistently above 80%.

However, in the same three months of this year, the percentage did not rise above 70.9%.

Ninewells consistently had higher performance stats.

For example, from June to September 2021, the percentage has not fallen below 88.6%.

Although the percentage for the same period in 2022 was not as high as the previous year, it was at its lowest at 83.8% in mid-August.

Time for Fife to learn from Tayside?

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley suggests it’s time for NHS Fife to look to Tayside.

He tabled a question on the matter in the Scottish Parliament last month but is still awaiting answers.

Mr Rowley says it is time to get to the bottom of why people in Fife are waiting so long.

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He says: “I genuinely wonder why one health agency in the region can see a reasonably respectable number of patients in four hours while another has such a shockingly low percentage in the expected timescale.

Alex Rowley MSP.

“Is it a case of NHS Tayside doing something to learn from or are there structural issues within NHS Fife that are causing these low numbers?”

What does NHS Fife say?

NHS Fife tell us they have a flow and navigation hub at Victoria Hospital.

It has existed since the end of 2020.

The hub helps triage patients and means more people are routed to the service best suited to their needs.

NHS Fife has strong ties to national work.

They also tell us that they have strong links with national work programs to share best practices.

However, they add that they will continue to grow their hub by adding new clinical pathways.

More than 250 patients per day

NHS Fife Deputy Chief Operating Officer Andrew Mackay says there is “significant pressure” on the emergency department.

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And while the hub is helping, there are still more seriously ill people to treat.

“We regularly see more than 250 people in a single day, each of whom needs to be assessed, treated and either discharged or admitted.

The hub helps, but there are more seriously ill people.

“The flow and navigation hub helps reduce unnecessary presentations and directs patients to the most appropriate treatment.

“But we still see many more people who are seriously ill and need to be hospitalized.

“The demand for inpatient care is still very high.

“And the continued increase in demand is hampering our ability to move patients from our emergency room to other parts of the healthcare system.

“It is important that all patients who require admission and who are waiting are cared for and monitored throughout their time in the emergency department.”

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[Is it time for NHS Fife to take tips from Tayside to tackle A&E crisis?]

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