ACCIDENT and Emergency performance fell to a new January low at NHS Fife, the latest figures have revealed.

Just 67.8 per cent of patients were seen within the four-hour target at the Victoria Hospital's emergency department in the week ending January 2 – the lowest figure in the month of January since records began in 2015.

This puts NHS Fife below the Scottish average of 71.6 per cent for the week as well as the Scottish Government’s target of 95 per cent.

The health board has urged the public repeatedly that if they are not facing an urgent medical situation to consider alternatives such as the minor injuries unit, such as the one at Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline, and calling NHS 24, to protect the Kirkcaldy hospital’s “exceptionally” busy A&E department.

Former Dunfermline MP and current North East Fife MSP, Willie Rennie, said: “These latest figures are deeply troubling and show the exceptional pressure on local staff and A&E departments.

"The added strain on NHS Fife this winter comes after months of missed targets.

“Patients are not getting the care they need and the longer this level of strain goes on, the greater the impact will be on staff morale and patient care.

“The Scottish Government must fulfil their promises and get on top of the problem."

He added: "The situation also shows the need for a full independent inquiry into avoidable deaths arising during the crisis in emergency care.”

The Scottish Government has invested an additional £10 million to prevent delayed discharge and avoid hospital stays, and a further £10m winter funding to ease pressures in A&E departments.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Emergency units across the UK continue to be hit by the direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic.

" Scotland’s core A&E departments continue to outperform those in the rest of the UK.

“Today’s figures have undoubtedly been impacted by Omicron-related staff absences, with health boards reporting a 65 per cent increase in coronavirus absence compared to the previous week. This is a reminder of the unprecedented challenges our NHS continues to face.

“The health secretary has been very clear this will be the most difficult winter in NHS history and that’s why we’ve announced £300m of measures to increase NHS and social care capacity as part of our strategy to simultaneously tackle the various issues combining in extra A&E waits.

“We are in daily contact with every board and are monitoring the situation closely.”