Record numbers of patients have endured extreme waits in Scotland’s A&E units, official figures have revealed, a day after Nicola Sturgeon insisted health secretary Humza Yousaf was “doing a very good job” 

The Public Health Scotland data was branded “truly terrifying” by opposition parties and led to fresh demands for the First Minister to sack Mr Yousaf immediately. 

PHS reported that more than 2,500 people waited over half a day to be seen in A&E in the last week of 2022, and almost 5,000 waited more than eight hours.

They were the worst figures since comparable records began in early 2015. 
In the week ending January 1, PHS reported 10,866 waited longer than the four hour target, up from 10,654 the previous week. 

The number of patients waiting more than eight hours rose from 4,543 to 4,977, and the number waiting more than 12 hours rose from  2,183 to 2,506, with both measures hitting record levels for a second consecutive week.

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The proportion of patients seen on time also declined, from 57.5 per cent to 56% last week, despite attendances at A&E falling from 25,062 to 24,685.

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 last year. 


The worst performing health board in the week before New Year was NHS Forth Valley, where 42.8% of patients were seen within four hours.

In NHS Lanarkshire was 44.6% and in NHS Fife was 49.5%. PHS also released figures showing record numbers of delayed discharge patients in November last year - a key reason for a shortage of beds causing problems in A&E. 

The average number of debs occupied per day due to medically fit patients being unable to leave - typically because of a lack of a care package - was 1,950, up 3% on October, and the highest figure since comparable records began for delayed discharge in 2016. 

In total, there were 58,501 bed days lost to delayed discharge in November, up by 25% on November 2021. 

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

Ms Sturgeon defended Mr Yousaf on Monday in a press briefing about the NHS crisis, jumping in when he was asked if he was out of is depth. 

She also announced the Government would try to buy up care home spaces to ease the delayed discharge problem, but care home providers warned a lack of staff and Covid outbreaks meant this could be difficult. 


Humza Yousaf

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “These record figures are truly terrifying. 
“Humza Yousaf is presiding over carnage in our A&E departments, with patients waiting longer and longer to be treated. 

“He was missing in action during the Christmas and new year period as our health service buckled under the strain. That has been typical of his lack of leadership as the crisis has deepened in Scotland’s A&E departments during his tenure.

 “My burnt out colleagues simply cannot give any more than they are currently doing for suffering patients. They are being let down at every turn by Humza Yousaf’s flimsy recovery plans which have failed despite his desperate claims to the contrary. 

“It is astonishing that Nicola Sturgeon believes Humza Yousaf is doing ‘a very good job’ when he is responsible for horrendous statistics like this every single week in our A&E departments. 

“How much more damning evidence does the First Minister need to accept that the hapless health secretary is out his depth in this role and should be sacked immediately? He has to go now.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "Over a year ago the Scottish Government put forward its plans to help the NHS recover. However, on the Health Secretary's watch since taking office in May 2021, every measure of A&E waits has gotten worse. 

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"Twenty-two  times as many Scots are now waiting over 12 hours in our A&E departments than when he became Health Secretary. That is an atrocious record from our Health Secretary, so it is no wonder the First Minister stood in for him to take the heat from the press. He is out of his depth. 

“Despite this mounting crisis, Humza Yousaf has opposed and voted down Scottish Liberal Democrat calls for a burnout prevention strategy, a staff assembly that puts their expertise to good use and an urgent inquiry into the avoidable deaths linked to the crisis in emergency care.

 “The Health Secretary must offer something new and radical to support the NHS now, because staff and patients cannot keep being taken for granted any longer. If Humza Yousaf cannot do that, then he will have to go.”