WAITING time targets in Scotland’s A&E wards have hit a nineteen-month low ahead of the winter season that traditionally strains services even further.

Official figures show just 85.1 per cent of people were seen within four hours during the week ending October 13, with 615 patients waiting more than eight hour and 144 over 12.

Glasgow’s troubled £850m Queen Elizabeth University Hospital had the worst A&E waiting time performance in the country, with just 73.5% of patients treated inside four hours.

The official target, which has not been hit since July 2017, is for 95% of patients to be treated in less than four hours.

This covers the "patient journey" from arrival at an A&E department until admittance, discharge or transfer to another hospital.

The October figure was the lowest since 83.7% in March 2018.

The level of attendances was 9.3% higher than the average of the equivalent weeks over the last three years.

Scottish LibDem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton blamed Health Secretary Jeane Freeman for failing to get on top of staff shortages in the NHS.

He said: “The Health Secretary has made big promises but things are only getting worse for patients.

“Winter is just around the corner and already we are seeing hundreds of patients waiting far too long for treatment.

“To offer patients a brighter future, we need to ensure staff have the resources they need to do their job. A good place to start would be publishing the integrated workforce plan that staff were told would be out last year.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "Our A&E departments continue to experience high attendance levels and despite this, Scotland’s core A&E departments continue to be the best performing in the UK and have been for more than four years.

"This is thanks to the ongoing hard work and dedication of our NHS staff who ensure that people get the best care possible.

“We are working closely with those health boards facing the greatest challenges to help drive improvements.”