HUMZA Yousaf has been accused of presiding over a “terrifying” and “unmitigated disaster” after Scotland’s A&E waiting times hit yet another record low.

Opposition parties blamed inaction by the Health Secretary for a dramatic slump in the number of people seen on time last week.

Public Health Scotland said just 71.3 per cent of patients were seen within the four-hour target in the seven days to October 3, down from 76% the previous week.

It was the lowest percentage since current records began. 

The previous record low was for the week ending September 12, when it was 71.5%.

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 SNP-Green Government was recently forced to call in the army to help deal with problems in the ambulance service caused by overflowing A&E units.

Public Health Scotland said there were 25,123 attendances at casualty units last week.

Of these, 1,782 patients waited more than eight hours and 591 waiting more than 12.

With fears that the numbers will only get worse as winter sets in, opposition parties demanded Mr Yousaf get a grip of the crisis.

His Tory shadow Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “These figures are nothing short of an unmitigated disaster for Humza Yousaf. He has completely failed to resource our A&E departments that are beyond breaking point.

“Humza Yousaf is overseeing a scandalous situation in our NHS. Thousands of patients are not being seen within the SNP’s own target waiting times. His inaction is putting heroic staff under immense pressure before we even hit the peak winter period.

“The support being offered by our UK Armed Forces is incredibly welcome, but the Health Secretary has still not outlined a plan to maximise their use.

“His winter plan which finally arrived last week was far too little too late. 

“Humza Yousaf must finally show some leadership and get on top of this A&E crisis which is now completely out of control.”

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “It is becoming clear that we are on track for another winter catastrophe this year if we fail to act.

“The SNP need to listen to the warnings from staff on the front line and get a grip on the growing emergency in our NHS before the cold weather really bites.

“There is no time to waste when this many lives are on the line.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton added: “These numbers are terrifying for staff and patients alike.

The NHS has always been a safety net for anyone who needs it, but after years of poor workforce management, that net has huge holes in it. 

“Undoubtedly, people will be slipping through.

“The health service isn’t just struggling it is being crippled by government mismanagement. There simply aren’t enough nurses available to prop hospitals up. There are thousands of vacancies, and the Health Secretary proposes recruiting just 200 from overseas.

“Those working through this are swamped, and have little reason to trust that this government will make things better. The SNP have been in charge of our health service for 14 years. This crisis is entirely of their making. There is nobody else to blame.

“The Health Secretary needs to find a way to get more boots on the ground, and every single NHS staffer needs to be given a reason to stay. Things are going to get much worse before they get better.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the pandemic “has inevitably affected A&E attendance” and stressed that an additional £27 million had been allocated to redesign urgent care in the health service.

“Our NHS staff have faced unprecedented pressures over recent weeks as they work tirelessly and consistently to respond to the pandemic whilst continuing to provide vital treatment and optimal patient care,” she said.

“To minimise pressures as much as possible this winter, we’ve recently announced £300 million of measures to help increase NHS and social care capacity in our hospitals and reduce delayed discharges.

“In the meantime, we will continue to work closely with those sites facing the greatest challenges to ensure rapid recovery plans are in place and are in contact daily.”