Long accident and emergency waits at Scottish hospitals may be linked to up to 1,400 excess deaths this year, Labour has suggested.
The party pointed to a calculation from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), which said earlier this year that one extra death occurs for every 72 patients that spend eight to 12 hours in an emergency department.
Between the start of 2023 and September 30, 103,446 patients waited more than eight hours in Scotland’s A&E departments.
Scottish Labour said this would equate to up to 1,436 excess deaths.
In February, the RCEM said some 23,000 “excess patient deaths” may have occurred in England due to long A&E waits last year.
At the time, NHS England said the figures were “very unlikely to give a full or certain picture” on excess deaths.
Scottish Labour said staff in the NHS need more support.
Health spokeswoman Dame Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP’s catastrophic stewardship of our NHS has left the NHS on the brink.
“With a shocking 100,000 waiting over eight hours and potentially 1,436 lives lost, the human cost of SNP incompetence has been left bare.
“These are not mere numbers – these are vulnerable people in need who have been failed by this SNP Government.
“Hardworking staff are being pushed to breaking point and they are receiving nothing but warm words from the SNP.
“With winter fast approaching, Michael Matheson would do well to stop racking up huge bills on his Parliament iPad and get to work to support our NHS.
“We need action now to tackle delayed discharge, support primary care and to invest in our NHS workforce.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We are clear that A&E performance is not where it needs to be.
“We fully recognise that longer waits in A&E are detrimental to patient outcomes, which is why we remain determined to improve A&E performance.
“We know that long waits remain too high – however, patients experiencing the longest waits will generally be those who require admission and are waiting on a bed in a ward.
“These patients will have been triaged and seen by a doctor prior to decision to admit.
“Scotland’s core A&E departments remain the best performing in the UK.
“Our winter plan will support boards to maximise capacity to meet demand and our £12 million expansion of Hospital at Home will ensure people receive care at home or as close to home as possible, where clinically appropriate, to help reduce pressure on our emergency departments.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub