Scotland’s emergency waiting times have already started to increase, new figures show, ahead of another expected “winter crisis” for NHS Scotland.

During August of this year, 71.3 per cent of patients attending A&E were dealt with inside the Scottish Government’s target of four hours.

However, the most recent weekly figures, from the week ending October 1st, show only 66.1 per cent of all attendances were seen and either admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

During last winter’s NHS crisis, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) warned there was an excess mortality of 50 deaths in Scotland every week, due to the pressure on emergency departments.

Increasingly long waiting times lead to poorer outcomes for patients, causing needless deaths which would otherwise have been prevented.

Last winter – “the worst winter ever”, according to Nicola Sturgeon – Scotland’s hospitals reached 95 per cent capacity, waiting times for A&E soared and ambulances queued up outside.

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