About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS), provides a weekly update of key statistics on attendances at Accident and Emergency (A&E) services across Scotland. The information includes trends in the number of attendances and performance against the 4 hour standard.

The statistics in this weekly update cover Emergency Departments only, and include new data for the week ending 21 March 2021.

Main points

Attendances at A&E services in NHSScotland has seen a large drop since the week ending 22 March 2020, this will be due to the measures put in place to respond to COVID-19.

During week ending 21 March 2021:

  • There were 21,627 attendances at A&E services in NHSScotland.
  • 86.9% of attendances at A&E services were seen and resulted in a subsequent admission, transfer or discharge within 4 hours.
  • 352 patients spent more than 8 hours in an A&E department.
  • 96 patients spent more than 12 hours in an A&E department.

Percentage within 4 hours


Comparison table

In this interactive table the data for Scotland and NHS Boards or the hospitals can be compared. In the table settings the location type and variables in the table can be selected and filtered by locations, years and months.


Patients attending Emergency Departments are first triaged to assess the seriousness of their condition. Depending on the patient's condition, diagnostic tests may be carried out, and treatments given within the Emergency Department, before the patient is admitted to hospital, directed to another service or discharged home. There are 91 locations providing A&E services across Scotland. Of these, 30 are classed as Emergency Departments - larger A&E services that typically provide a 24 hour consultant led service. The 30 Emergency Departments are responsible for more than 8 out of every 10 A&E attendances, 19 out of 20 breaches of the four hour standard, and 19 out of 20 admissions from A&E to hospital.

National Statistics publication on A&E Activity and Waiting Times is released on the first Tuesday of every month. The statistics in the monthly publication cover attendances to all A&E services in Scotland and are derived from the A&E datamart.

Please note that since the publication on Tuesday 6 October 2020 the data for this publication also comes from the A&E datamart.

Since 2007, the national standard for A&E is that new and unplanned return attendances at an A&E service should be seen and then admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours. This standard applies to all areas of emergency care, including attendances in trolleyed areas of an Assessment Unit as well as Emergency Departments and minor injury units.

A list of sites providing emergency care and their classification can be found online at Emergency Care - Hospital Site List (external website). For information on how the Scottish Government (SG) monitors NHS Boards' performance within A&E Services, please see the NHS Local Delivery Plan standards (external website).

Changes to the way people access A&E were implemented on 3 December 2020 help people get the right care in the right place. For more information see the Scottish Government website (external website).

This new approach will keep people and NHS Scotland safe by ensuring A&E provides the fastest and most appropriate care for people when they really need it.

While people should continue to call 999 or go directly to A&E in emergencies, those with non-life threatening conditions who would usually visit A&E should call NHS 24 on 111 – day or night. People can also continue to call their GP practice for urgent care or access help online from NHSinform.scot. NHS 24 assess people by telephone and can refer them to the right care by the right healthcare professional and as close to home as possible. If A&E is the most appropriate service to provide that care, NHS 24 will make a referral to A&E where a telephone or video consultation may be offered by A&E staff. This will help keep people safe and avoid unnecessary travel to hospital. If a face-to-face consultation is necessary, the nearest A&E may arrange an appointment to avoid waiting in crowded areas wherever possible.

This means that the data presented in the weekly and monthly publications will change over time. PHS will include information on planned attendances as a separate analysis. These planned attendances will not be included in the 4 hour standard statistics.

Further information

Further information can be found on the Emergency Care (external website) pages of the ISD website.

NHS Performs

A selection of information from this publication is included in NHS Performs which is a website that brings together a range of information on how hospitals and NHS boards within NHSScotland are performing.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.unscheduledcare@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
Was this page helpful?