THE number of people waiting too long to be treated in A&E in Scotland has risen to its highest level in more than four months, alongside rises in those enduring extreme waits.

Public Health Scotland reported 9,538 people waited more than the official four-target last week, the highest number since the first week in January.

The proportion seen on time fell from 65.8 to 64.1 per cent in the week to May 14.

The number waiting over eight hours jumped from 2,534 to 3,143 and from 806 to 1,161 for waits over 12 hours, in both cases the worst figures since the week to April 2.

Opposition parties said the decline in performance to a state last seen in winter was a “truly dreadful state of affairs”. 

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.

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The worst performing health board last week was NHS Forth Valley, where 47.2% of patients were seen on time, followed by NHS Lanarkshire (56.3%) and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (58.7%).

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has calculated there will be an excess death for every 1 in 72 patients who spend between eight and 12 hours in an A&E. 

The Scottish Tories laid the blame on Humza Yousaf’s two-year stint as Health Secretary before he became First Minister and Michael Matheson took over at health. 

Tory MSP Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “Humza Yousaf’s disastrous tenure in charge of Scotland’s NHS is continuing to have a devastating impact on our A&E departments.

“Despite us heading towards summer, performance in A&E is heading backwards on the SNP’s watch despite the best efforts of my dedicated colleagues on the frontline.

 “That is a truly dreadful state of affairs. 

“Michael Matheson has been left an almighty mess to clear up by the now-First Minister. It should never be acceptable that more than one third of patients are waiting so long to be treated.

“With well over 1,100 patients waiting half a day to be seen too, suffering patients and frontline staff are bearing the brunt of the failures of Humza Yousaf’s flimsy recovery plan and total inaction as health secretary.

“There is no time to wait for Michael Matheson to get on top of this A&E crisis. He needs to deliver a real recovery plan for our NHS and he should ensure that it makes our health service modern, efficient and local across the country, if we are to ever hit A&E waiting time targets again.”

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Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “That more than 1,000 people have waited over half a day for urgent medical care in a single week in May shows worrying signs that our NHS system is not working.

“This is not winter pressure alone – this is the result of the SNP’s chronic failure to support our NHS and those who serve it.

“Patients are being failed on a daily basis by this government and long waits are putting lives in danger.

“We cannot go on like this. Michael Matheson may not have started this crisis, but without action then Humza Yousaf’s deadly NHS legacy will persist.

“It’s time for Michael Matheson to listen to frontline NHS workers and act to bolster A&E before long waits endanger more lives.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The crisis in Scotland's A&E departments continues to get worse, yet we are seeing next to no action from this SNP government.

"Sadly it seems continuity government means continuity crisis. We need to see urgent action from Michael Matheson to resolve the crisis in our A&E departments that was left to him by Humza Yousaf.

"That should start by dropping his government's opposition to our constructive proposals such as an urgent inquiry into the hundreds of avoidable deaths linked to the emergency care crisis, a staff burnout prevention strategy and a health and social care staff assembly.”