Responding to the latest A&E waiting times published today for Scotland and the ongoing pressures on the NHS this winter, Prof Derek Bell OBE, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

"The College would like to thank all NHS staff who have been working in difficult circumstances this winter but continuing to deliver safe patient care across the country.

"The combination of cold weather and a doubling in the cases of flu means that care is more complex at this time of year and has exacerbated the challenges that winter typically brings.

"The College would encourage all staff to ensure that they have had the flu vaccination and encourage all NHS Boards to ensure that vaccination programmes for staff are as accessible as possible. With cold conditions likely to continue, it is not too late to get vaccinated.

"We would also reiterate the advice around vomiting and diarrhoea to those visiting hospitals. We would strongly discourage anyone experiencing vomiting or diarrhoea from visiting patients in hospital. The spread of viruses – such as norovirus – can be a major cause of the loss of bed capacity in hospitals. Furthermore, hand washing rather than hand gels is more effective at preventing the spread of these viruses and should be encouraged in hospitals.

"The resilience of our NHS will be determined by how quickly we recover from these winter challenges. It will be important to review the pressures we’ve faced this winter and the measures taken to tackle them in order to plan ahead and become more resilient. Any review must look at the whole system of care and our capacity to cope with demands placed upon it. We need to assess what has worked well and where improvements are required to ensure the continuity of good  care throughout the patient journey."

  1. The latest A&E waiting times have been published today.

Lisa Rooke

Contact: Lisa Rooke 0131 247 3688