Record numbers of Scots who attended accident-and-emergency departments in the week between Christmas and New Year were forced to wait more than four hours for treatment as the NHS was deluged by a flu epidemic. Official statistics for the week ending December 31, 2017 showed nearly a quarter of people (5,686) who attended A&E had to wait longer than the target deadline, 1,156 waited longer than eight hours and 272 longer than 12 hours. Only 78 per cent of patients were admitted or discharged within four hours, well below the Scottish Government target of 95 per cent and the lowest level since weekly reporting of the statistics started in February 2015.

Patients at some hospitals endured even longer waits, with Forth Valley Royal Hospital meeting the four-hour deadline in only 57.3 per cent of cases and Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital – Scotland’s largest – treating 63.3 per cent. Shona Robison, Scotland’s embattled Health Minister, claimed A&E performance was still better than south of the Border but warned the surge in flu and respiratory illness would take “some time” to subside. But the Scottish Conservatives said the figures were “nothing short of a disgrace” and the Liberal Democrats said they should “shatter the SNP government’s complacency.” Labour said the four-hour target was missed more than 100,000 times last year.

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