PERFORMANCE times in Scotland’s A&E units have recovered slightly from last week’s record low, easing the pressure on Nicola Sturgeon to replace her health secretary.

However more than a third of patients still waited too long. 

Opposition parties said the NHS was now in "constant crisis".

Public Health Scotland reported 65.1 per cent of people attending A&E in the week to November 6 were seen within the official four-hour target.

This was up from 63.1% the week before, the worst figure since comparable figures began in February 2015.

The improvement coincided with a fall in attendance numbers, down from 26,052 to 25,123.

The number of patients enduring extreme waits in emergency departments also fell.

The number of patients waiting more than eight hours to be treated fell from 3,391 to 3,021, while the number waiting more than 12 hours fell from 1,445 to 1,354.

Overall, the number waiting more than four hours fell from 9,615 to 8,473.

The better numbers come just a day after the First Minister faced calls from Holyrood’s opposition parties to sack Humza Yousaf as her health secretary.

She said she had “absolute confidence” in him, and accused his critics of “political game playing over the NHS”. 

The official 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.

The worst performing health board last week - as it has been for some time - was NHS Forth Valley, where the priority given to elective surgery has affected A&E performance, and where 54.4% of A&E patients were seen within four hours last week, up from 42.7%.

In NHS Lanarkshire it was 55.4% and in NHS Lothian it was 58.9%.

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.

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “The buck stops firmly with Humza Yousaf for these horrendous A&E figures that occur every single week.

“These scarcely believable statistics are putting more and more patients' lives at risk and are completely overwhelming my burnt-out colleagues on the frontline.

“Nicola Sturgeon may have absolute confidence in Humza Yousaf but long suffering patients and heroic staff certainly do not and changing the Health Secretary would allow for fresh planning for winter. 

“His deplorable tenure as Health Secretary has pushed our health service into total crisis and all he does is spin dodgy data to protect himself and this SNP Government. 

“Humza Yousaf has completely lost the trust of patients and staff and his flimsy NHS Recovery Plan has proven to be a monumental failure. It is time Nicola Sturgeon accepted this and sacked him.”

Scottish Labour deputy Jackie Baillie said: “These dire figures show A&E is still stuck in a state of constant crisis.

“Patients are being put at risk and hardworking NHS staff are being badly let down.

“Humza Yousaf is the worst Health Secretary in the history of devolution and his disastrous stewardship will only become more dangerous as we go into winter.

“We urgently need to tackle the chaos in our NHS before any more lives are lost.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "Another week, another onslaught of catastrophically long waits in our A&E departments. The SNP has made these waiting times the new normal and it is unacceptable.

"It is mindboggling that just yesterday the First Minister declared she had full confidence in her Health Secretary. Everywhere the NHS is in crisis. Everyone knows someone on a waiting list.

"Having voted down and ignored Liberal Democrat calls for a burnout prevention plan and a staff assembly that values their expertise, Humza Yousaf must drop his opposition to an urgent inquiry into the avoidable deaths linked to the crisis in emergency care.

"More of the same from Humza Yousaf will send our NHS into an even deeper crisis."