Humza Yousaf is “disastrously out of his depth” as Scotland’s health secretary, it has been claimed.
It comes after waiting times figures for accident and emergency departments hit a record low.
Official figures published earlier this month showed that thousands of people had to wait for more than four hours before being attended to.
Just 63.5% of patients in emergency departments in the week up to September 11 were seen before either being admitted or discharged within that time – significantly below the Scottish Government’s 95% target.
A record number of people – 9,895 – had to wait for more than four hours during that period, out of the 27,097 total number of attendances.
Yousaf has acknowledged that the level of performance in Scotland’s A&E departments is “not acceptable”.
The health secretary has insisted that he is “determined” to improve the level of performance, working with health boards to help reduce pressure on hospitals.
However, Scottish Labour have stated that his “record-breaking failure” is putting lives at risk.
They warned that NHS staff have been left “demoralised and exhausted” due to Government failings, as they criticised the record of Yousaf in his government role, having been appointed health secretary in May 2021.
The Scottish Government has pointed to health spending and staffing levels rising to “record levels” since 2007.
It has also stated that Scotland’s A&E performance is the “best” of all four nations in the UK.
Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie called for Yousaf to be placed in “special measures” due to his failings in office.
“500 days of Humza Yousaf has left our NHS on life support,” said Baillie, the party’s deputy leader.
“He is disastrously out of his depth and his record-breaking failure is putting lives at risk.
“Fantastic NHS staff have been left demoralised and exhausted trying to compensate for the mess this SNP government have made.
“When a health board is failing, they are put in special measures – now it’s the health secretary who needs to be put in special measures.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said that recovery on long waits for planned care is “well underway” as they defended the record of Yousaf.
“The health secretary is absolutely focused on ensuring Scotland’s NHS is as well-equipped as possible to tackle the huge challenges we face,” they said.
“He will shortly set out our plans to prepare the health and social care service for the challenges of winter, as well as updating progress on the first year of the £1bn Recovery Plan.
“Under his watch, health spending and staffing levels have grown to record levels since 2007 and Scotland had the most successful vaccination programme of any UK nation.
“Recent figures showed the recovery on long waits for planned care is well underway.”
The spokesperson added that “ambitious” waiting times targets are aimed at addressing the backlog of planned care.
“In commons with health services across the UK and globally, A&E departments are working under significant pressure and the pandemic continues to affect services,” they continued.
“And while Scotland’s A&E performance continues to be the best of all four UK nations, the health secretary has made clear latest performance is not where it needs to be.
“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 recently show two year waits are clear in more than half of outpatient specialities (54%).”