Michael Matheson’s final week as SNP health secretary coincided with yet another reverse in A&E waiting times, it has emerged.

Opposition parties said the “parting gift” to his successor Neil Gray was “appalling”.

Public Health Scotland reported that only 62.8% of patients were seen within the official four-hour target in the week ending February 11, down from 63.4% the previous week.

Although the number of people waiting more than eight hours fell from 3,509 to 3,431 (13.8 to 13.5% of patients), those waiting more than 12 rose from 1,496 to 1,659 (5.9 to 6.5%).

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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 42.1% of patients seen on time, followed by NHS Lanarkshire (50.3%) and NHS Grampian (59.4%).

The decline in performance Scotland-wide was in spite of a slight drop in attendances from 25,424 to 25,347 of whom 9,434 waited longer than the four-hour target time.

Mr Matheson quit as Health Secretary on February 8 after a protracted row over an £11,000 iPad bill run up by his teenage sons while on a family holiday in Morocco.

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “The latest appalling A&E waiting times are disgraced Michael Matheson’s parting gift to our NHS.

“During his tenure as health secretary he never met the SNP’s waiting time target, and it is now the shocking norm that over a third of patients have to wait over four hours to be treated.

“The latest SNP health secretary – Neil Gray – must urgently get a grip of this crisis to stop almost 1,700 patients waiting over half a day to be seen at A&E. 

“If he wants somewhere to start, then he should adopt the bold and ambitious plans outlined in our new health paper, which would deliver a modern, efficient, and local NHS."

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Scottish Labour deputy Jackie Baillie said “A&E in Scotland is stuck in a state of constant crisis under this failing SNP government.

“Neil Gray must act to end the chaos in these over-stretched services so patients and staff do not have to pay the price for the SNP’s incompetence.

“The Health Secretary has been left to clear up the mess left behind by both Michael Matheson and Humza Yousaf, who both failed miserably to deliver an NHS recovery.” 

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton added: "From Humza Yousaf to Michael Matheson, Scotland's NHS has only known failure. 

“This must now be the moment when the SNP decide to tackle this crisis in our A&E departments.

"For too long interminable waits at A&E have effectively become the norm for the SNP, this cannot be allowed to continue.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats would overhaul the NHS Recovery Plan, bring forward an urgent inquiry into the hundreds of avoidable deaths linked to the emergency care crisis and implement measures which will meaningfully tackle burnout among staff.”

Mr Gray said: “We recognise waiting times are longer than we want them to be for some patients as emergency departments across the UK continue to deal with high demand due to sustained levels of seasonal illnesses.

“Despite this, it is encouraging that there are signs of stabilisation across the system and we continue to work closely with boards to support the delivery of sustained improvements.

“Hospital bed occupancy is having a major factor on performance. Our delayed discharge and hospital occupancy action plan is being implemented at pace to deliver actions we know work to reduce delays.

“This includes early planning, deployment of multi-agency teams and involvement of the patient and their families and carers.”