Less than two-thirds of patients attending Scotland’s A&Es were seen within four hours, the latest figures from Public Health Scotland have revealed.

In the week up to November 5, just 60.9% of patients were seen within the target time, down from 63.0% in the previous week.

It is the worst record for the country's emergency departments since January 8, when only 57.6% of patients were seen within the timeframe. 

The Scottish Conservatives called the waits “beyond disgraceful” and warned that the figures suggested this winter could “even worse” for the NHS than last year.

Labour said Health Secretary Michael Matheson — currently caught in a row over an £11,000 data roaming bill — needed to "put the iPad down and get to work in tackling delayed discharge and the crisis in social care."

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The Scottish Government’s target is for 95% of patients to be seen and subsequently admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

However, that has not been met since July 2020.

Of those patients waiting more than four hours, 15%, 3,735, had to wait over eight hours while 6.7%, 1,660 had to wait over 12 hours before being seen and subsequently admitted, discharged or transferred.

The last time the 12 hour wait was so high was in mid-January, when 7% of patients were forced to wait for so long.

At the Forth Valley Royal hospital, 29.5% of those presenting had to wait over eight hours, far more than at any other A&E in Scotland.

While at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, 273 patients, 11.8% had to wait for more than 12 hours. 

In all, there were 24,838 attendances at emergency departments in the week up to November 5, down slightly on the previous week when 24,943 attended.

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Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “Waiting times in Scotland’s A&E departments are beyond disgraceful.

“With each passing week, they point to a deepening crisis across our NHS under the SNP.

“More and more patients are suffering intolerable delays at A&E thanks to the SNP’s failure to get a grip on this situation, with waiting times now their worst since the beginning of January.

“Given the devastation we saw on the NHS frontline last winter, these latest figures are truly terrifying for staff and patients, as all signs point to this winter being even worse.

“As we rapidly head towards that period, it is now the shocking norm that at least a third of patients wait over four hours to be seen at A&E, delays that mean patients’ lives are on the line.

“Michael Matheson should accept that Humza Yousaf’s flimsy NHS recovery plan has failed to remobilise frontline services and rip it up. If he wants to tackle this crisis, he should match the Scottish Conservatives’ ambition to deliver a modern, efficient and local health service.”

Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the “disastrous numbers” were “the appalling legacy of Humza Yousaf’s time as Health Secretary.”

He added: “It is his Recovery Plan that is leaving patients waiting in pain and forcing staff to pick up the pieces.

“Everyone on the frontline knows the situation is desperate and many shifts are dangerously understaffed, but SNP and Green ministers have sat on their hands.

“Michael Matheson must now press the reset button and put the voices of staff first.

"That means completely overhauling the failed NHS Recovery Plan, bringing forward an urgent inquiry into the hundreds of avoidable deaths linked to the emergency care crisis and implementing a plan that will meaningfully tackle burnout among staff.”

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “These statistics have revealed an NHS in crisis with patients being left in danger as a result.

“Michael Matheson must hang his head in shame for his abysmal failure to support NHS staff and keep patients safe.

“With the worst A&E waits since January recorded before winter bites, Michael Matheson must act before the situation gets even more dire.

“It’s time for Mr Matheson to put the iPad down and get to work in tackling delayed discharge and the crisis in social care, which is putting pressure on NHS services, so that NHS staff can keep Scots safe this winter.”

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Mr Matheson admitted that the A&E performance was “not where it needs to be.”

“We continue to work closely with boards to support delivery of sustained improvements,” he added.

“Hospital bed occupancy continues to have an impact on performance. To address this, the delayed discharge and hospital occupancy action plan is being implemented at pace, delivering actions we know work to ensure patients receive the right care in the right setting.

“We will continue to work collaboratively with health boards to develop services and support sustained improvement.”