A quarter of patients in A&E departments were not treated on time with almost 500 having to wait 12 hours or more to be dealt with, the latest figures show.
Data for the week ending February 6 showed 74.4% of patients in A&E were admitted to hospital, transferred or discharged within four hours.
This was down from 75.6% of patients the previous week and well below the target of 95%.
Staff in A&E units dealt with 23,429 cases over the seven days – with 1,346 patients there for eight hours or more.
Meanwhile, a total of 498 patients spent over 12 hours in an A&E.
The Scottish Government insisted there had been a “marked improvement” in the performance of emergency departments when compared to earlier this year.
But opposition politicians branded the situation “wholly unacceptable” as they warned long waits for treatment could be “downright dangerous”.
Scottish Labor health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said the latest weekly figures were a “stark reminder that the crisis engulfing our A&E is far from over”.
Baillie, also Scottish Labor deputy leader, hit out: “Not only are things not improving, but they are getting worse once again, despite the very best efforts of the hardworking NHS staff.
“Hundreds of people being stranded for over 12 hours when seeking urgent help is downright dangerous, and it is a damning indication of the SNP’s response to this crisis.
“If the SNP are going to ease the pressure on our emergency rooms, they need to free up capacity by tackling delayed discharge – but this has soared to its highest point since the pandemic began.
“We cannot let chaos become the new normal in our NHS. The SNP must make sure health and social care services across Scotland can cope, or lives will be lost.”
Conservative health spokesman, Dr Sandesh Ghulane, hit out at Humza Yousaf, saying: “Lives are being put at risk due to the SNP Health Secretary not getting a grip of this situation long before now.”
The Tory stated: “Week after week Humza Yousaf’s continued inaction is failing our NHS. These A&E waiting times are once again wholly unacceptable.
“Our frontline NHS staff are working flat out but they are being badly let down by the SNP Government who haven’t stepped up to support them.
“Humza Yousaf needs to start showing the leadership required if A&E waiting times are ever again going to be brought under control.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, was also critical of the SNP administration, pointing out that the A&E waiting times target “is being missed week after week despite NHS staff continuing to work around the clock”.
The Lib Dem said: “The SNP has colossally failed our health system – not just during the pandemic but for the past 15 years.
“This Government failed to deliver a solid NHS recovery plan, voted down our burnout prevention strategy and still haven’t responded to our proposals for a health and social care staff assembly.”
He continued: “Patients’ lives are potentially at risk, our NHS heroes are exhausted and the situation demands immediate and systemic change.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “A&E waits continue to show a marked improvement on the situation from the turn of the year.
“Almost three-quarters of patients were seen within the four-hour target and this is reflective of the improvements we are seeing in staff absence and the series of measures implemented to minimize pressures across our A&E services.”
The spokeswoman stressed that “NHS staff continue to face unprecedented pressures as they work to respond to the pandemic whilst continuing to provide vital treatment and optimal patient care”.
And she said: “Scotland has the best performing A&Es in the UK. In fact, Scotland’s A&Es have outperformed those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for over six years.
“The most recent NHS Digital comparison of 12-hour waits in the UK showed that the number of people waiting over 12 hours in England in A&E was proportionately eight times higher than in Scotland, and the rate in Wales was over 21 times higher.
“In the last seven years there have been more than 10.8 million A&E attendances in Scotland with over nine in 10 people being seen, treated or discharged within four hours, and with 99.7% seen in under 12 hours.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.