A&E waiting times in Scotland in October were the worst since records began, new figures show.
Just 73.5% of patients who presented at emergency departments were seen within the four-hour target set out by the Scottish Government.
According to figures from Public Health Scotland, the proportion of patients waiting less than four hours fell from 76.1% in September.
The monthly figure has been steadily dropping throughout the pandemic, but the Scottish Government claims the performance is better in Scotland than any other country in the UK.
Throughout October, 6,8% of patients (8,181) waited longer than eight hours before being admitted to hospital or discharged, while 2.1% (2,533) waited 12 hours or longer.
The October figures were released at the same time as statistics for the week ending November 28, which showed a slight improvement from the week before, rising to 73.8% from 73.2%.
Some 5.5% (1,282) of patients waited longer than eight hours during the week, with 1.8% (423) waiting more than 12 hours.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Emergency units across the UK continue to be hit by the direct and indirect impacts of Covid.
“We know that performance will fluctuate as we move into the winter months, but Scotland’s core A&E departments continue to outperform those in the rest of the UK, and have done so for more than six years, with today’s figures confirming that, during October, over 73% of people were seen and subsequently admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours at our A&E departments.
“The Health Secretary has been very clear this will be the most difficult winter in NHS history and that’s why we’ve announced £300 million of measures to increase NHS and social care capacity as part of our strategy to simultaneously tackle the various issues combining in extra A&E waits.
“We are in daily contact with every Board and are monitoring the situation closely.”
Scottish Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said the figures are unacceptable and show Health Secretary Humza Yousaf’s “inability” to tackle the problem.
“The fact that more than one in four patients are not being seen within the four-hour target set by the SNP Government should shame the Health Secretary, because it will lead to avoidable deaths.
“His flimsy NHS recovery plan is totally inadequate. Even with the wonderful assistance of UK armed forces and his knee-jerk attempt to divert patients from A&E to GP services, the Health Secretary has been unable to prevent the worst emergency waiting time figures since the SNP came to power.
“We must finally see leadership and an urgent plan from him to address this growing crisis in Scotland’s NHS.”