AN MSP has called for an investigation after asking the First Minister if there was "political interference" in NHS Fife's decision not to declare a major incident at Victoria Hospital.

Roz McCall quizzed Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament last week following "terrifying" claims that patients were waiting more than nine hours to be seen in A&E with some having to be examined in ambulances waiting in the hospital grounds.

The Tory MSP, who represents Mid Scotland and Fife, said: "The First Minister did not answer my question and has not given the residents of Fife the investigation they deserve.

"I will continue to push for an investigation and will not rest until I have answers."

She added: "The fact that patients had to wait over nine hours for emergency treatment is a terrifying thought for residents.

"Once again whilst the SNP denies having failed patients, local residents are suffering. They are playing politics with people’s lives.

"Nicola Sturgeon instead of trying to resolve the crisis in the NHS has instead resorted to blaming patients for going to A&E."

At First Minister Questions Ms McCall explained that a whistle-blower had got in touch from the emergency department at the Vic, expressing concerns that patients were waiting more than nine hours to be seen and that patient examinations were being conducted in the ambulances in the hospital grounds.

She said: "Staff within the department believed a major incident criteria was met but were not allowed to call or declare it as such.

"So can the First Minister confirm that no political direction was given to NHS Fife, or any other health board for that matter, to ensure that a major incident was not called?"

The MSP also called on the government to investigate why staff were "not allowed" to follow standard protocol.

Ms Sturgeon replied: "It is up to health boards to take whatever decisions they think might be appropriate to prioritise critical and life-saving care.”

A spokesperson for NHS Fife said: “Healthcare services in Fife, and our emergency department in particular, remain under unprecedented pressure.

“There are clear national criteria which enables NHS Fife to declare a major incident should this be required.

“In addition, there is also a local escalation framework that staff and services feed into on a daily basis.

"This enables us to rapidly evaluate pressures across our clinical services and provide all staff within the multi-disciplinary team with instruction on how to manage bed availability, clinical, professional and staffing concerns to ensure safe, effective person-centred care is maintained at all times.

“We are currently working to alleviate the pressures across the healthcare system and ensure our clinicians can continue to deliver safe patient care.

"Any decisions made about whether to declare a major incident will be made in partnership with senior clinical staff.”

And a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is for health boards to take decisions on any measures that would help alleviate the pressures we’re seeing as a result of the pandemic, Brexit-related staffing shortages and increases in winter viruses.

"NHS Fife has been clear that the board take these decisions with senior clinicians.

“The First Minister has chaired two meetings of the Scottish Government resilience committee to discuss ongoing pressure and we remain in daily contact with health boards to ensure all possible actions are being taken to support services.

"We will continue to monitor the situation extremely closely and further resilience meetings will be held in the coming weeks as required.”