Humza Yousaf has been told to act on Scotland’s NHS – or his position will become “untenable”.
Scottish Labour issued the stark warning after the party, along with the Scottish Conservatives, criticised the handling of Scotland’s healthcare system at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday.
Figures published this week showed Scotland’s emergency departments reported their worst waiting times on record, with just 63.5% of people being seen and subsequently admitted or discharged within four hours.
A freedom of information (FOI) request by the Tories also revealed this week that one patient at University Hospital Crosshouse in Ayrshire waited 84 hours and 10 minutes for treatment in January of this year.
Labour has attacked a “succession of key failures” it says have occurred during Mr Yousaf’s tenure as Scotland’s Health Secretary.
The party has highlighted statistics showing “the worst weekly and monthly A&E waiting times recorded” in recent years, with thousands of patients waiting more than eight hours to receive emergency treatment on a weekly basis.
Labour said that from June 2021 to July 2022, delayed discharges from hospitals have resulted in more than 685,000 bed days being lost.
July of this year saw a daily average number of 1,806 beds occupied by someone who was ready to be discharged from hospital – the highest figure since the current guidance was introduced six years prior.
Elective surgery waiting lists have also been criticised, with more than 139,000 people in Scotland waiting for in-patient or day-case admission as of June 2022.
Scottish Labour health spokesman Jackie Baillie said: “Despite warning after warning, Humza Yousaf’s inaction is leading our NHS into a winter crisis like no other.
“After being in post for almost 500 days, Humza Yousaf has failed to get to grips with the increasing problems in our NHS.
“If action is not taken now, we risk a humanitarian crisis this winter with lives needlessly lost.”
Ms Baillie added: “Humza Yousaf is a record breaker, the worst A&E stats on record, the highest level of delayed discharge, the longest waiting lists, he’s broken all the records and patients and staff are the ones that suffer.
“If action is not taken now to avert a catastrophe in our NHS then Humza Yousaf’s position will be untenable.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government, said: “The health secretary is absolutely focused on ensuring Scotland’s NHS is as well-equipped as possible to tackle the huge challenges we face, which is why health spending and staffing levels have grown to record levels since 2007.
“Scotland currently has the highest overall percentage vaccination rates for first and second doses for those aged over 12 years of any UK nation, and figures showed this week the recovery on long waits for planned care is well underway.
“In common with health services across the UK and globally, A&E departments are working under significant pressure and the pandemic continues to affect services.
“And while Scotland’s A&E performance continues to be the best of all four UK nations, the First Minister and health secretary have made clear latest performance is not where it needs to be.
“NHS planning for winter is well underway across the service to strengthen service resilience and enhance national contingency planning.
“Our ambitious waiting times targets look to address the backlog of planned care and we are working hard with Boards to maximise capacity. We are making good progress and figures published this week show two year waits are clear in more than half of outpatient specialities (54%).”