More than 12,000 Scots died before reaching hospital by ambulance in 2023, Scottish Labour has revealed.
Party leader Anas Sarwar said the statistic, obtained using freedom of information legislation, shows the “real-world consequences” of “SNP incompetence”.
The figure increased from more than 7,100 in 2019 – a 70% rise in four years.
It emerged in the wake of the resignation of health secretary Michael Matheson over his £11,000 iPad roaming charges bill.
Mr Sarwar said the resignation will make the headlines, but “the crisis in our NHS has been 17 years in the making”.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Mr Sarwar said: “Many of these people may have survived if an ambulance could have reached them sooner or they could have been admitted to hospital more quickly.
“That is the real-world consequence of SNP incompetence and a failure to get to grips with a crisis in our NHS.”
In response, First Minister Humza Yousaf said a “significant chunk” of winter funding was used to recruit additional ambulance staff.
But he said: “I take real exception to Anas Sarwar’s characterisation in his question that nobody in the Government understands the real challenges that the NHS is under.
“We do. In fact, we of course are the ones who brought forward a recovery plan that is helping the NHS to recover.
“There is not a single person on the front benches here who doesn’t understand the significant challenges the NHS is under.”
Mr Sarwar then highlighted a pledge made by the Scottish Government to contact all 150,000 women who were excluded from cervical screening by 2021, saying figures show 65,000 women are still waiting.
He said: “These women, and too many people who need the NHS, are being failed by an incompetent SNP Government.
“The result: A&E delays get worse, waiting lists grow, staff burn out and thousands of patients lives are put at risk.
“This Government would rather deny it is incompetent than face up to the problem.”
Mr Yousaf said the women most “at risk” have been contacted and claimed Mr Sarwar had failed to account for the pandemic.
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