NHS Ayrshire and Arran has the second worst-performing Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments by waiting times according to the latest figures from Public Health Scotland.

The health board saw only 81.1 per cent of patients within four hours in February with that rate only worse in NHS Borders (74.7 per cent).

In June 2020, the figure for those seen within four hours in Ayrshire and Arran was 96.3 per cent marking a 15 per cent drop in those seen within the recommended time in the space of eight months - the highest drop in the whole country.

The health board also had the highest amount of people waiting over 12 hours to be seen in A&E in February in the whole of Scotland.

207 patients were forced to wait over 12 hours in the region before being seen while the figure for the whole of Scotland was 483 with NHS Lothian (104) the second worst in terms of patients seen over 12 hours.

The figures come despite A&E attendances plummeting to their second-lowest level ever recorded in Scotland.

A total of 80,423 patients visited an A&E department in Scotland in February 2021, 47,918 fewer than the same month last year – before coronavirus was discovered in the country.

Responding to the figures, NHS Ayrshire and Arran said that the health board had “experienced a combination of different pressures” including the coronavirus pandemic and apologised to those patients who had to wait longer to be seen.

Joanne Edwards, Director of Acute Services for NHS Ayrshire and Arran said: “NHS Ayrshire and Arran is committed to providing safe and effective healthcare and treatment for our population in the right place at the right time.

“The entire health and care system in Ayrshire and Arran has experienced a combination of different pressures over the measurement period.

“Our urgent and unscheduled care systems have experienced increased demand compared with the previous period. All staff have worked tirelessly to support these periods of heightened activity to provide care to our patients in the safest way possible.

“In-patient numbers have been high over this period in addition to the necessary Infection Prevention and Control measures that have reduced bed availability.

“We apologise to any patient who had to wait longer than would have normally been the case at these times, for either discharge or transfer to an appropriate setting from our Emergency Departments.

“We are working closely with our health and social care partners to put contingency measures in place, which includes supporting citizens at home, transfers of care from the hospital, maximising access to beds, bringing in additional staff and working hard to get patients home as soon as they are well enough with appropriate support.

“We acknowledge the hard work of our health and care teams who are supporting those who need care and treatment.

“We are determined to continue to make every effort in finding ways to eliminate waits for patients and to provide quality care within the waiting times standards.”