More than a fifth of patients across Grampian waited longer than four hours to be seen in A&E, as pressure builds on Humza Yousaf to answer for failings.
Calls were made for the health secretary to “answer for his job” as new figures show Scotland recorded its worst A&E waiting times on record.
The statistics from Public Health Scotland show just 79.5% of patients in Grampian who went to A&E in the week of September 12 were seen within the four-hour waiting time standard.
The situation was slightly better in the Highlands, where 84.9% of patients passed through A&E units in the target time.
This is against a Scottish Government target of 95%, with opposition politicians claiming “lives are on the line”.
It comes as waiting times worsen across the country, with Scotland recording its worst level on record at an average of 71.5% of patients being seen in four hours.
‘Answer for his job’
Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the “horrific” figures had been “years in the making” and claimed Mr Yousaf must answer for his job”.
He added: “The health secretary had been warned that emergency care was crumbling, and yet after a month of record-breaking waiting times things still aren’t improving.
The release of the figures came just hours before Mr Yousaf made a statement to parliament to announce the steps being taken to ease the crisis in the ambulance service.
A total of 1,895 patients across Scotland spent more than eight hours in an A&E department and 551 patients were there for more than 12 hours.
NHS Grampian said earlier this month that Covid-19 patients in the region had surged, putting “huge pressure” on front line staff and hospital capacity.
‘Lives are on the line’
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said the crisis in the NHS is “spiralling further and further out of control”.
She added that the Scottish Government must “act now to secure more acute beds for the NHS” as “lives are on the line”.
Sue Webber, Scottish Conservative shadow public health minister, described the figures as a consequence of “Humza Yousaf’s inaction and lack of leadership”.
She added: “It is time Humza Yousaf produced a proper plan to remobilise our health service and give a guarantee that patients will be treated at A&E as quickly as possible.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in her latest Covid-19 update on Tuesday that the NHS is facing “crisis conditions as a result of a global pandemic”.
She added: “It is facing crisis conditions here in Scotland and it is facing crisis conditions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
‘Unprecedented pressure and strain’
An NHS Grampian spokesman said the health board – like the rest of NHS Scotland – is continuing to “faced unprecedented pressure and strain across all its services”.
He added: “We would assure the public that cases are triaged with those facing life-threatening situations – such as heart attacks or strokes – continuing to be seen rapidly for life-saving treatment as an absolute priority.
“Our staff continue to work extremely hard under these pressures and we would once again like to publicly thank them for their incredible efforts.
“It is vital that in order to assist us, members of the public call NHS 24 on 111 prior to coming to hospital, unless the situation is life-threatening – for example a suspected heart attack or stroke – in which case they should call 999.”