HUMZA Yousaf has been told to quit as Scotland’s health secretary after new figures revealed one in seven people are now waiting for NHS treatment.

New statistics show that the number of people on waiting lists for hospital procedures, outpatient appointments and diagnostic tests has now soared to 776,341 – the equivalent of one in seven Scots.

As of 30 September, 474,600 patients were waiting for outpatient procedures, 141,796 patients were waiting for inpatient procedures and 159,945 patients were waiting to be seen for one of the eight key diagnostic tests, bringing the total to 776,341.

At the end of September, 2,114 referred for an outpatient appointment and 7,612 people waiting for a daycase or inpatient procedure had already been waiting for more than two years. The Scottish Government has pointed to this being cut by 20 per cent since July.

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But Mr Yousaf had pledged to end waits of more than two years by the end of September.

Calls have been made for Mr Yousaf to resign as health secretary and allow someone else to be responsible for reviving the NHS.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, has labelled the “shameful figures” as “a ticking timebomb”.

He said: “It’s staggering that the number of patients waiting in NHS backlogs has now reached over three-quarters of a million.

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“Any delay to getting a diagnosis or starting treatment can lead to a patient going downhill rapidly, at the very least prolonging their suffering – and at worse leading to avoidable deaths.

“Tackling Scotland’s huge treatment backlogs should have been the cornerstone of our Covid recovery strategy, but Humza Yousaf’s flimsy recovery plan has only seen backlogs soar since the pandemic.

“Humza Yousaf has proved himself completely unfit for the task of saving our NHS – and his promises to get things back on track over a period of years will be cold comfort to the many patients facing unacceptable waits for treatment or tests right now.

“Nicola Sturgeon must urgently intervene and sack her failed health secretary before more patients suffer as a result of his incompetence.”

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “The facts are clear for all to see – a shocking one in seven Scots are languishing on NHS waiting lists and thousands are waiting years to be seen.

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“These are not mere figures – these are real people who are being left in pain, worry and anxiety by the SNP’s incompetence.”

She added: “The soaring number of patients on waiting lists risks Scots losing their lives before receiving vital treatment and will force more and more into the arms of private medicine.

“Make no mistake, Humza Yousaf’s incompetence is risking lives and creating the two-tier health service.

“Hundreds of thousands of lives and the very survival of our NHS is on the line – it’s time that the worst health secretary since devolution got the sack.”

Scottish LibDems leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, has also called for Mr Yousaf to resign if he cannot turn things around.

He said: “The ever-growing number of people on NHS waiting lists reveals the dire extent to which this SNP-Green coalition have been ignoring and deflecting on our healthcare crisis. It’s an insult to doctors, nurses and patients waiting in pain.

“The crisis in our NHS is stark and meaningful action is needed. With 1 in 7 Scots now on a waiting list, it is time for Humza Yousaf to step up to the plate and focus his attention on addressing this emergency.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton added: "Scottish Liberal Democrats have repeatedly called for a burnout prevention strategy and a staff and social care assembly, but these have been ignored time and time again by the Government. “If Mr Yousaf can't sort this mess out, he will need to go. Staff and patients have been suffering for far too long to entertain yet more nonsense from this government.”

The Scottish Government has pointed to statistics showing waiting times of more than two years have been reduced by 20% for both outpatients and inpatients.

The number of outpatients waiting more than two years decreased from 2,633 in the quarter to the end of June to 2,114 for the period 1 July-30 September, and there was a 22% reduction in the number of patients waiting over two years for inpatient and daycase procedures.

Mr Yousaf said: “We recognise the impact long waiting times have on a patient, from both a clinical and mental health perspective, which is why we announced ambitious waiting times targets to address the backlog of planned care.

“These figures show NHS boards and their staff are working extremely hard, during challenging times, in order to meet these targets and support patients. I cannot thank them enough.”

He added: “We have already seen a huge effort to clear the backlog caused by the pandemic and we have seen two year outpatient waits in most specialities cleared. This is real progress on our recovery journey but we must stay focused on these efforts.

“I recognise the picture continues to be extremely tough, particularly as we head into winter, and that’s why our £600 million winter plan will see us recruit 1,000 new NHS staff and our £50 million Unscheduled Care Collaborative looks to reduce pressure on A&E through scheduled urgent appointments, Hospital at Home and directing people to more appropriate care.”