A&E waiting times slipped backwards again last week after a brief recovery, prompting more criticism of beleaguered SNP health secretary Michael Matheson.

The Scottish Tories said the particularly poor performance at one of Scotland’s biggest hospitals, where only 40% of patients were seen on time, was “terrifying”.

Public Health Scotland reported 63.5% of patients across Scotland were seen within the four-hour target in the seven days to November 19, down from 63.9% the previous week.

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There was a mixed picture on extreme waits, with the number of people waiting more than eight hours barely down from 3,249 to 3,234, but up in percentage terms from 13 to 13.1%.

The number waiting more than 12 hours fell from 1,440 to 1,370, or from 5.8 to 5.5%.

The stagnating figures were still among the worst since the spring.

Only two in five patients (40.2%) were seen on time at the flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, while a fifth (20.5%) waited more than eight hours and one in 14 (6.9%) waiting more than half a day for treatment.

The target is for 95% of patients to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

It has not been met nationally since July 2020.

The worst performing health board last week was NHS Forth Valley, with just 45.2% of patients seen within four hours, then NHS Lanarkshire (53.5%) and NHS Grampian (59.2%).

Opposition parties linked the numbers to Mr Matheson’s ongoing battle for survival after lying about his £11,000 Holyrood iPad bill, which he initially denied was down to his family.

It later emerged he knew it was caused by his two teenage sons watching football on a family holiday in Morocco at New Year, yet misled the media about it four days later.

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “These dreadful and worsening waiting times underline the need for a health secretary fully focused on the day job – rather than one mired in personal scandal.

“Scotland’s A&E wards are already in crisis before we’re even in the full grips of winter, yet discredited Michael Matheson is still distracted by his unravelling tissue of lies around his iPad.

“We know that these unacceptable figures – which take in the first full week of the roaming charges scandal – will have led to tragic and needless loss of life, and are a legacy of years of dire workforce planning by a succession of SNP health secretaries."

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He went on: “The figures for the QEUH – the flagship hospital in Scotland’s largest health board – are particularly terrifying, with just 40% of patients being seen within four hours.

“Despite the best efforts of my hard working colleagues on the frontline, our emergency wards simply can’t cope and the last thing we need is a preoccupied health secretary unable to tackle the crisis.

“Instead, we need a minister who will match the Scottish Conservatives’ ambitious plans to deliver a modern, efficient and local health service.”