THE SNP has been accused of a failure to support the NHS amid "unacceptable" ambulance waiting time figures. 

Statistics show that in 2020/21 only 70.9 per cent of the most urgent 999 calls waited fewer than 10 minutes for an ambulance – down from 80.8% in 2018/19.  

A total of 125 patients waited more than 30 minutes and six patients waited more than an hour for an ambulance, despite their calls being triaged as purple, the most serious and urgent response category.

Overall there were 17,697 patients who waited more than two hours for an ambulance in 2020/21. 

Of these, 20 had been triaged into the second most serious category of red. 

The figures were published in response to a parliamentary question from Scottish Labour's health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie. 

She said: “It’s clear that ambulance waiting times are on the rise and that lives are being risked as a result.

“The reports of waits lasting for many hours are horrific and the statistics clearly show that they are not isolated incidents.

“This is unacceptable. We cannot have the Scottish Government’s failure to support the NHS putting lives at risk.

“[SNP Health Secretary] Humza Yousaf must act now to support ambulance services or lives will be lost.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: "Our highly committed staff in communities and in ambulance control centres are working tirelessly in these challenging times to respond to patients as quickly as possible, but due to the significant pressures we are currently experiencing, unfortunately there have been delays.

"Response times can be affected by a range of factors, including increased infection control measures due to coronavirus, incident location, effects of weather, road conditions and delays in handover of patients to emergency departments at hospitals across the country.

"Our Clinical Response Model (CRM) aims to save more lives by more accurately identifying patients with immediately life-threatening conditions, such as cardiac arrest; and to safely and more effectively send the right type of resource first time to all patients based on their clinical need.

"Since adopting this new model, there have been significant increases in 30-day survival for patients presenting in cardiac arrest, and Scottish Ambulance Service clinicians responding in a robust and timely manner to patients affected by major trauma and conditions such as stroke.

"Response times have increased over the period being reported on, and we are currently recruiting and training additional staff and purchasing additional ambulances to help reduce delays.

"In addition, we are working very closely with hospitals to optimise patient handover arrangements."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Like all areas of our NHS, our ambulance service has been under significant pressure as a result of the pandemic.

"Despite these challenges and serving some of the most rural areas in the UK, in 2020/21 our crews responded to over 70% of highest priority calls in under 10 minutes and more than 99% in under 30 minutes.

"The ambulance service is carrying out a national review of demand and capacity to ensure it has the resources in place to meet current and projected future demand.

"This review resulted in an additional £10.5 million funding announced last year and further investment is planned this year.  

"This builds on more than £1 billion we have provided to our ambulance service over the past four years as we ensure people continue to receive high quality emergency health care throughout the country, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.”