Scotland’s health secretary has thanked healthcare staff for their work during the “very challenging” winter period in the NHS.
During a visit to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Michael Matheson said the service was experiencing “peak winter demand”.
Waiting times at A&E dropped sharply in the most recently released figures, with just 60.8% of people seen and subsequently admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours in the week up to December 31.
The figure fell from 65% the week before, prompting opposition politicians to claim the health service is in a “perilous position”.
Matheson said: “Our health and care services are now dealing with peak winter demand.
“There is no doubt the situation remains very challenging so I am extremely grateful to all our highly skilled and committed NHS and social care staff for their continued hard work and dedication.”
He added that Scots “have really played their part so far” by considering if their condition is bad enough to warrant going to A&E.
“To help relieve pressure on services it’s vital everyone continues to do that,” he added.
“Local GPs and pharmacies can be contacted during the day for non-critical care, NHS 24 is also available on 111 for non-emergencies, and the NHS Inform website is an invaluable resource.
“However, let me be clear – urgent care will always be available for those who need it. If someone needs emergency care they should call 999 or go straight to A&E.”
NHS 24, the health secretary said, also experienced “significant demand” over the festive period, but the non-urgent phone line was able to handle large volumes of calls “very well”, which he said was down to planning which started in spring last year.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country