WAITING time performance across Scotland’s A&E units has improved slightly for a second week although almost a third of patients still wait too long to be treated.

Public Health Scotland reported 67.9 per cent of people attending A&E last week were seen within the four-hour target, up from 66.3% the week before and 65% before that.

Opposition parties called on SNP Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to get a grip of the situation now in case it dramatically deteriorated in winter.

The total number waiting more than four hours in the seven days to August 7 was 7,947, down from 8,326 the previous week.

The number waiting more than eight hours fell from 2,541 to 2,369, and the number waiting more than half a day in A&E fell from 1,040 to 916. 

Reported attendances rose from 24,699 to 24,731, although this does not include the August 1 figures from NHS Forth Valley.

Public Health Scotland said Forth Valley, which has struggled with A&E times recently, was “unable to submit data” for that day, meaning a local and national uncercount.

“Public Health Scotland are working closely with colleagues in NHS Forth Valley to rectify this and we will include amendments in our next weekly update,” PHS said.

The oficial A&E target, which has not been met nationally since July 2020, is for 95% of patients to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

The figure has been below 70% in Scotland since the week ending May 22.

Seeing fewer than half its patients on time for another week, the worst performing health board was NHS Forth Valley where just 48.5% of people were treated inside four hours.

NHS Borders saw 58.8% of its A&E patients on time, and NHS Fife 59.3%.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has warned long delays are harming or killing more than 30 patients a week. 

A key factor is a lack of social care places leading to the delayed discharge of patients medically fit enough to leave hospital.

This creates an overall shortage of beds, making it harder to advance patients through A&E.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "Anyone who needs medical attention deserves to be seen close to where they live, and in a timely manner. Yet thousands of Scots week in week out have only seen waiting times deteriorate further and further.

"We are now seeing a major crisis in the NHS at the height of summer, and based on the reaction from the SNP/Green government you would be forgiven for thinking they are trying to pretend it's not happening.

"If they cannot get control of the situation now I dread to think what patients will be confronted with come winter.

"There should be absolutely no doubt as to the gravity of this situation, these waits will put lives at risk.

"We need the Health Secretary to be focussed on this crisis day in day out to prevent this looming winter of chaos for our NHS.

"My party has set out ideas that could help alleviate this crisis, like a burnout prevention strategy and an NHS staff assembly, but this SNP/Green government has voted them down.

"We need to see the Scottish Government actually recognising where 15 years of SNP mismanagement has left us, and start taking action because the crisis is here now."