It is now more than 17 years since the SNP took the reins of power at Holyrood.

Over that period, the SNP’s stewardship of many key public services has been derisory and this is perhaps most evident when it comes to the NHS.

The NHS is our most cherished public service but it is now in a state of crisis as more than 840,000 Scots are on a waiting list, there has been a failure to meet the 62-day cancer referral standard since the final quarter of 2012 and with many people struggling to secure timely access to GP services.

In A&E, waiting times for thousands of patients are far too long. 

Since 2007, the national standard for A&E has been that 95% of patients who present at hospital should be admitted, discharged or transferred no later than four hours after their arrival.

Public Health Scotland – the national public health body – produces monthly statistics on A&E performance for all health boards and hospitals across the country. For the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board region, the numbers make for grim reading.

As the end of the SNP’s first full year in office approached, the four-hour target had been met for 97.8% of patients within the Greater Glasgow region in April 2008.

The most recent monthly statistics from Public Health Scotland cover April 2024 and the data shows that in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, a total of 70.1% of patients received care at A&E in a four-hour period.

Comparing April 2008 to April 2024, the statistics show that there has been a huge 27.7% decline in the number of patients who were seen at A&E within the four-hour standard.

This data is a very serious concern and on the SNP’s watch, the long-term direction of A&E performance in Greater Glasgow is one of significantly more patients having to endure longer waits before receiving healthcare.

In April 2015, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital – initially named as the South Glasgow University Hospital – opened its doors to patients for the first time.

One year after its opening and 89.2% of patients were seen within four-hours over the month of April 2016.

Fast forward eight years and the Public Health Scotland data highlights that in April 2024, the four-hour target was met for only 55.2% of patients –  a massive 34% drop compared with the same period in 2016 and 40% lower than the national standard for A&E.

That is an intolerable situation.

Dire workforce planning from the SNP for our NHS and the failure of a flimsy recovery plan produced in 2021 means that thousands of patients are being forced to suffer excessive waits at A&E.

Scottish Conservatives have consistently challenged the SNP on the unacceptable A&E waiting times performance and we will continue to hold the Nationalists to account for their track record of failure on this issue.

The SNP simply must get a grip on the challenges facing A&E services in Greater Glasgow and across Scotland.