Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf has paid tribute to NHS staff as the service celebrates its 74th anniversary.
He used his thank you message to praise the efforts of health and social care workers during the pandemic.
“I can think of no better way of celebrating this milestone than by using it to thank everyone working across the health and social care sector for everything they have done and continue to do to care for us all,” he said.
But he reiterated the tough time facing the sector as it struggles to bounce back from the challenges of Covid-19.
He has previously said the NHS, which launched in 1948, could take years to recover, rather than months.
His comments come as new data from Public Health Scotland (PHS) revealed the number of patients waiting longer than four hours at A&E departments has reached a record high.
In the week up to June 26, 8,993 people waited more than four hours to be assessed and discharged or admitted.
And the average number of delayed discharges in Scottish hospitals has jumped by 50% in the last year, PHS data showed.
However Yousaf reiterated the NHS must be given time to recover as it enters its 75th year of service.
He said: “As we enter the historic 75th year of the health service, there has never been a more important time to recognise the incredible impact it has had on all of our lives.
“The last 36 months have been the hardest period our health and social care system has ever faced.
“It is thanks to the remarkable resilience and dedication of our outstanding staff that our NHS has made it through these challenges.
“And indeed, every challenge that it has faced over the last seven decades.”
He added: “I want to renew the commitment of the Scottish Government to focus on our NHS recovery plan and deliver a health care service that is sustainable through service, innovation and redesign.
“We want to put the needs to every person in Scotland at the heart of the NHS, so no matter where you live, you have access to the right care at the right place, at the right time.”
“My promise to you, the people who work in our health care system, is that we will continue to invest in your wellbeing to make sure we don’t just thank you with warm words, but demonstrate it through our actions.
“For example, by ensuring you continue to be the best paid staff in the UK and recognition of the exceptional care you provide every single day.”