THE number of patients waiting too long in Scotland’s A&E departments has risen for the fifth consecutive week, according to the latest official figures.

The figures, which come as health secretary Humza Yousaf bids to become First Minister, were described as “woeful” by the Scottish Tories.

Public Health Scotland reported 8,629 people waited more than four hours to be seen last week, compared to 6,453 in the week ending January 22, when it started to rise.

The number of people waiting more than eight hours has risen for four consecutive weeks, from 2,018 in the week ending January 29 to 2,983 last week.

The number waiting more than 12 hours has fluctuated less predictably, but last week rose from 1,133 to 1,275. 

In percentage terms, the number of people waiting more than four hours improved fractionally from 64.4 to 64.5 per cent, although this compares to 70.3% in the week to January 29.

Some major hospitals saw a far poorer turnaround of patients. 

At Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, only 41.4% of people were seen on time last week, while at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow it was 41.5%.

The target is for 95% of patients to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

It has not been met nationally since July 2020.

The worst performing health board last week was NHS Forth Valley, where 47.2% of patients were seen on time, followed by NHS Borders (56.3%) and NHS Lanarkshire (58.5%).

The decline in performance in February comes on the back of an improvement in January.

Other PHS data published today showed the figure for A&E waiting times in January was 68.7% seen on time, up from a record low of 62.1% in December.

There were also slight improvements in delayed discharge figures, in terms of average waits and average beds occupied in January, albeit from poor figures in December.

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “These woeful figures show there is no sign of improvement in Scotland’s A&E performance, despite the NHS winter peak being behind us.

“The tragic reality is that lives continue to be needlessly lost because of excess delays – and that’s why the rise in patients waiting more than 12 hours is so terrifying and unacceptable.

“We can never accept a scenario where more than a third of patients are failing to be seen within the Scottish Government’s four-hour target – but that’s become the norm under Humza Yousaf’s disastrous tenure as health secretary.

“These appalling stats are no reflection on dedicated NHS frontline staff, who have been stretched beyond breaking point by years of dreadful SNP workforce planning and recovery plans that aren’t fit for purpose.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said:  “Humza Yousaf told the Scottish people that his NHS Recovery Plan would see improvements made in tackling the crisis in our A&E departments. 

“Despite the hype, as is so common with this government, waiting times have spiralled and the conveyor belt of broken promises trudges along.

“On his watch, we have seen the worst A&E wait times on record.    

"The Scottish public will undoubtedly be asking what Humza Yousaf would actually do differently as First Minister, yet three weeks into this contest and we have heard nothing new from him on how the NHS will be supported.

“There are thousands of people every week waiting interminably for treatment, and every one of them is being taken for granted by this government. 

“The SNP and its leadership candidates need to stop obsessing over reckless schemes for separation and ease the boiling point pressures facing our NHS.”