ALEX Salmond has pledged to reduce accident and emergency waiting times after a new report showed hospitals were missing targets.

The First Minister vowed waiting times would be cut to a level "the patients of Scotland deserve".

He spoke out after opposition parties condemned the Scottish Government's record in the wake of a report showing the number of patients waiting more than four hours has almost trebled in five years to nearly 104,000 people in 2012-13.

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Scots Labour leader Johann Lamont said: "Those waiting more than four hours for treatment has tripled on his watch. When will his actions start to prove effective?"

Mr Salmond insisted waiting times had improved since the previous Labour-LibDem administration.

But he acknowledged the NHS's performance needed to improve. He said: "Working together we're going to bring about the sort of improvement the patients of Scotland deserve."