WAITING time performance at Scotland’s A&E departments has improved for the third successive week, but opposition parties said it was still not good enough.

Official figures showed 75.2 per cent of 24,717 patients were seen within the four-hour target in the week to November 14, up from 73.8% the previous week.

Public Health Scotland also reported 1,243 patients waiting more than eight hours in casualty (down 35 in a week) and 313 waiting more than 12 hours (down 88).

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 Scottish Tories suggested Health Secretary Humza Yousaf's plea for people to think twice before going to A&E was behind the improvement, but attendances actually went up last week.

The latest figure is the third week in a row showing an improvement, albeit from a record low point of just 69.9% of patients being seen on time in the week to October 25.

The worst performing NHS board last week on A&E waits was Forth Valley, where 57.8% of patients were seen on time, followed by NHS Borders (67.%) and NHS Fife (70.4%) 

Scotland’s biggest health board, NHS Greater Glasgow a& Clyde, saw 77.9% of patients on time, with NHS Lothian and NHS Lanarkshire both poorer on 71.6%.

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

Scottish Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP, said: “Yet again, the SNP Government are miles away from meeting their A&E waiting time target.

 “It’s unacceptable that a quarter of patients are still not being seen within four hours, even with the fabulous support provided by UK Armed Forces. 

“And these figures come after weeks of pleas from Humza Yousaf for only those with life-threatening conditions to attend A&E.

“This strategy of pushing more and more patients towards GP services has had a minimal effect on the A&E crisis, while heaping more pressure on another overwhelmed part of Scotland’s NHS.

“Since the escalation of the ambulance crisis several months ago, the Health Secretary has made a series of knee-jerk reactions, which we said would not make a difference because there is no joined-up strategy and forward planning.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "These long waits are unacceptable. Behind each and every one is a person in pain who has not got the care they need and a host of NHS staff struggling to help them because they don’t have the support.

“The NHS and patients are paying the price of over a decade of SNP mismanagement, and their failures in workforce planning and retention. 

“This autumn’s waits have been the worst on record. The Health Secretary must stop using the pandemic as an excuse for his government’s shortcomings and commit to a full independent inquiry into the avoidable deaths arising from the emergency care crisis.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are seeing a steady improvement in these figures in recent weeks following our investment to address capacity issues in A&E, but we know that emergency units across the UK continue to be hit by the direct and indirect impacts of Covid-19.

“We know that performance may fluctuate as we get into the winter months, but Scotland’s core A&E departments continue to outperform those in the rest of the UK, and have done so for more than six years, with today’s figures confirming three-quarters of people were seen and subsequently admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours at our A&E departments.

“The Health Secretary has been very clear this will be the most difficult winter in NHS history and that’s why we’ve announced £300 million of measures to increase NHS and social care capacity as part of our strategy to simultaneously tackle the various issues combining in extra A&E waits.

“Alongside the additional £10 million investment recently announced to prevent delayed discharge and avoid hospital stays, we recently announced a further £10 million in winter funding which aims to ease pressures in A&E departments and minimise delays that patients are currently experiencing when they need urgent care.

“This includes co-ordinated work to reduce the time people need to spend in hospital so that others can be admitted quickly. It also includes the deployment of expert physio and occupational therapy staff at A&E units to help triage people best treated elsewhere."