NICOLA Sturgeon has been urged to recall parliament this week to discuss the “unprecedented crisis” in the NHS. 

The Scottish Tories said the First Minister should reconvene Holyrood as an “emergency response” to problems in A&E and the rest of the health service. 

Last week official figures showed barely half of A&E patients were being seen on time - a new record low - while medics have warned of extreme conditions at some hospitals.

Dr Iain Kennedy, the chairman of  BMA Scotland, warned the health service was “broken” and won’t survive in its current form, with rationing of some treatments already underway. 

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane, who has repeatedly called for SNP health secretary Humza Yousaf to be removed from his post, said the problems in the NHS were “so acute and mounting” that they needed to be addressed immediately. 

However, as MSPs are due back at Holyrood on January 10, demanding their recall a few days early is likely to be seen as a stunt by the Scottish Government.

Dr Gulhane, a GP who has been doing shifts over the festive period, said: “It’s no exaggeration to say Scotland’s NHS is on life support at the moment - and an emergency response is needed from Nicola Sturgeon.

“Our health service is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis – by far the worst in my clinical career.

“The system is hanging together by a thread. Years of dire workforce planning by successive SNP health secretaries has left us with a desperate shortfall of frontline staff in all areas of the NHS – nurses, GPs, specialist doctors.

“This – coupled with Humza Yousaf’s woefully-inadequate Covid Recovery Plan, lack of leadership and undermining of staff – has left our health service in the perilous situation where lives are being needlessly lost.

“I’ve experienced first-hand how bad things are, and how over-stretched and shattered staff are, during locum GP shifts over the holidays.”

The latest official figures show just  just 55 per cent of A&E patients were seen and admitted, discharged or transferred within the four-hour target in the week to December 18.

In the same week, a record 1,821 people waited longer than 12 hours in A&E – an increase of almost 700 from the previous week.

A&E doctor David Caesar, a former deputy chief medical officer in Scotland, revealed he had been forced to see some patients outside his hospital’s front door.

An emergency medicine consultant at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Dr Caesar complained of a sense of “impending doom” among medical staff.

Dr Gulhane added: “Each day, it seems, a fresh apocalyptic warning is issued by a senior medic or health board, yet Humza Yousaf is missing in action and there is silence from the government.

“Our NHS can’t afford to wait until next week for action from the health secretary – who staff have lost faith in, and who ought to be sacked – or an SNP government which has typically made a debate on independence its first priority in parliamentary business for the new year.

“That’s why I’m calling on Nicola Sturgeon to reconvene parliament this week to debate the enormous crisis that is continuing to unfold on her watch.”

In England, where the Conservatives are in charge of the NHS, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine this week warned some A&E departments were in a "complete state of crisis" because of acute winter pressures, partly driven by a jump in cases of flu and Covid.

Dr Ian Higginson, the college's vice-president, said he was in "no doubt" there was a risk to patients.

On Sunday, RCEM president Dr Adrian Boyle also said up to 500 people were dying every week as a result of delays to emergency care, with a flu outbreak leading to record levels of bed occupancy and long A&E waits.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We know that this is one of the toughest winters in the NHS’s 74-year history.

“We are monitoring the situation in emergency departments extremely closely and are in daily contact with health boards to ensure all possible actions to support services are being explored.

“Covid has still not gone away and these pressures, combined with pandemic backlogs, are making it a very challenging time for the NHS. We have been dealing with one of the coldest periods for many years which put an increasing strain on the NHS.

“On top of that, flu has been classified at extraordinary levels, with cases admitted to hospital the highest in five years. We also had to deal with rising cases of Strep A and other respiratory viruses which has resulted in significant demand on services.

“Delayed discharge continues to have a major impact in driving up accident and emergency waits, and we are working with health boards to ensure people leave hospital without delay, freeing up vital beds for those who need them most.”