WAITING times in Scotland’s accident and emergency departments are continuing to diminish with December recording the second worse performance on record.
Nearly a third of patients have had to wait longer than the Scottish Government’s target time of four hours, with just 69.7 per cent of patients being seen within that time.
For the remaining 30.3 per cent, 7,285 people waited longer than four hours before they were attended to, including 1,803 who had to wait more than eight hours, and 598 who were left waiting for more than 12 hours.
Scotland recorded their worst figures for A&E waiting times in October, and the new numbers which track the number of patients in the week ending December 12 are the second worst on record.
The Scottish Government’s target of 95 per cent of patients being seen within four hours has not been met since July 2020.
The new figures have prompted opposing political parties to respond.
The Scottish Conservatives have branded the new figures as “awful” saying they are a “grim reminder of Humza Yousaf’s failure to get a grip of the crisis”.
Health spokesman for the party, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, said: “More people waiting longer to be seen in A&E leads – tragically but inevitably – to avoidable deaths.
“So, our NHS is crying out for a clear and thorough strategy from the SNP Government to tackle this crisis – yet the Health Secretary’s recent silence is deafening.
“His flimsy Covid recovery plan just isn’t cutting it, and, despite the wonderful support of UK armed forces and his appeal for the public to think twice before attending A&E, Humza Yousaf appears to be at the mercy of events rather than influencing them.”
While Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “We are now in the midst of one of the toughest winters to face our NHS and it is clear that A&E services are buckling under the pressure.
“Despite the heroic work of frontline staff, our underfunded and overstretched A&E departments are in crisis.
“The challenges facing our emergency departments are not new or unpredicted. Despite warning after warning, Humza Yousaf has entirely failed to act – lives are now on the line due to his inaction.
“With Omicron cases set to surge, we urgently need greater support for A&E services and the staff that work in them. Failure to do so risks the collapse of A&E services across the country and avoidable loss of life.”
NHS Forth Valley was once again the worst-performing health board, with more than half (50.8 per cent) of its A&E patients waiting four hours or more.
It was followed by NHS Lanarkshire (39.5 per cent) and NHS Borders (31.2 per cent).
In the week before, NHS Tayside became the first mainland health board to exceed the 95 per cent target since the end of June 2021 – seeing 97.6 per cent of its 1,400 A&E patients within four hours.
But in the latest figures this number dropped to 90.3 per cent.
The health boards that managed to exceed the government target were NHS Orkney (95.3 per cent), NHS Shetland (96.9 per cent) and NHS Western Isles (96.4 per cent).
It comes as the First Minister is set to make an announcement about possible restrictions returning amid the emergence of the new Covid Omicron variant.
Ms Sturgeon has warned of a ‘Tsunami’ of cases in the coming weeks – with the peak of the latest wave of infections expected to come at the end of January and the beginning of February.
She will detail the latest scientific advice and could bring in new rules on large gatherings today— but has said she will not impose fresh restrictions on individuals’ festive plans.