Scotland’s NHS is facing the “most significant” challenge in its history as a result of the pandemic, health secretary Humza Yousaf has said.
However, he denied the health service was in crisis ahead of winter.
Opposition parties have hit out at lengthening waiting lists in the NHS.
Figures released earlier this week showed A&E waiting-time performance had reached a record low.
Yousaf told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show the Scottish Government had been making progress in reducing waiting lists before the pandemic hit.
Asked if the system was in crisis, he said: “No, it’s the most significant challenge the NHS has ever faced.
“In the entire history of the NHS this crisis, this pandemic, this virus, caused the most significant pressure.
“Never has there been a time when so many procedures, surgeries and diagnostic pressures have been paused for so long.”
He said the flu vaccine would be a “key tool” in reducing pressure on the NHS ahead of winter, with the Government aiming to inoculate people at a faster rate than ever before.
Yousaf also said he expected to see further advice on vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds in the coming week.
In a decision on Friday, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) did not recommend a mass rollout among 12 to 15-year-olds.
Instead, it suggested ministers should seek further advice on the wider impact of vaccination.
Chief medical officers (CMOs) from around the UK are now considering the impacts.
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