WAITING times in Scotland’s A&Es have seen a moderate improvement in the last week, with drops in the number of four, eight and 12 hour waits. 

According to the latest statistics from Public Health Scotland, 64.9 per cent of patients attending casualty waited more than four hours, compared to 62.9% last week. 

However, that is still far below the Scottish Government’s target of 95% of patients being admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours. 

Opposition parties called on Health Secretary Michael Matheson to change tack and ditch the NHS recovery plan put forward by his predecessor, Humza Yousaf. 

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The four-hour target hit an all-time low of 55.1% in mid-December before climbing to 70.3% at the end of January - the best since May 2022 - but has been on a downward trajectory since then. 

The Herald:

The number waiting more than eight hours fell from 3,334 to 2,602, while 906 were stuck in A&E for 12 hours, around 3.7% of the 24,840 who attended, down from around 5% last week. 

There was a wide discrepancy between health boards, with NHS Forth Valley bringing the national average down, with just 44.9% of patients seen within four hours. 

In NHS Grampian, it was 60.3%, while NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde managed 64.2%. NHS Western Isles topped the table with 97.4% of patients seen within the target time. 

In NHS Lothian, just 49.7% of patients at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh were seen within the four-hour standard.

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Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane said the government's eyes were "well and truly off the ball."

He said: “Humza Yousaf’s disastrous tenure as health secretary means that it is now the shocking norm that over a third of patients are not seen within four hours at A&E in Scotland’s NHS.

“The now First Minister’s flimsy recovery plan has completely failed to remobilise frontline services and suffering patients are paying the price every single day as a result.

“Despite the best efforts of my dedicated colleagues on the frontline, we know that these excessive delays lead to tragic deaths.

“Humza Yousaf’s failures have left his successor- Michael Matheson- with a monumental task in turning round the fortune of Scotland’s health service.

“He should start by ripping up that flimsy recovery plan and deliver a new and workable plan to ease the overwhelming pressure on frontline staff and improve waiting times for patients.

“As the SNP continue to be engulfed by chaos, our NHS is buckling under the strain as a result of years of mismanagement by the SNP, whose eyes are well and truly off the ball right now.”

Scottish Labour's health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “The crisis in our A&E has gone on for far too long and we need immediate action to fix it.

“Scotland cannot afford any more of the status quo and this must be a wake up call for new Health Secretary Michael Matheson.

“NHS staff and patients are suffering due to the colossal incompetence of those in government.

“It is high time that Matheson takes real steps to recover our NHS after Humza Yousaf’s disastrous stewardship, listens to frontline NHS workers and acts now to end the chaos in our NHS.”

Health Secretary Michael Matheson welcomed the improvement in wait times. He said: “We are supporting Health Boards as they continue to manage the significant pressure that remains on services right across the health and social care system.

“This week we have seen a 31.7% decrease in the number of patients waiting longer than 12 hours in A&E, this is welcome and down to the hard work of staff in our emergency departments.

"I am grateful to all health and social care staff for their outstanding effort in the face of this sustained pressure.

“Hospital bed occupancy continues to be a major factor impacting performance. We are increasing NHS 24 staffing and providing up to £8 million to Boards to help alleviate pressure from delayed discharge.

"As part of our nationwide approach, patients who no longer need to be in hospital are being urgently reassessed and those clinically safe to be discharged will be safely moved home or to an interim placement in a care home – freeing up beds for those most in need.”