NEW figures have revealed that Inverclyde Royal only met the accident and emergency weekly waiting time target ONCE in the whole of 2021.

The week between May 16-23 was the only time where the hospital hit the Scottish Government's target of 95 per cent of A&E patients waiting less than four hours before being either admitted, discharged or transferred.

An average of 84 per cent of parents were seen within four hours at Inverclyde Royal across 2021, and the hospital recorded its worst ever figure of 63.7 per cent in week ending October 3.

A record nine patients had to wait more than 12 hours to be seen the following week, the highest figure for IRH since records began in February 2015.

The hospital and its hard-working staff have been under huge strain this year as the pandemic has continued.

The interactive graph below illustrates its troubled year.

Regional MSP Neil Bibby says staff are facing 'intolerable' pressure.

Labour's Mr Bibby added that the figures demonstrated that the Scottish Government's current NHS plan wasn't working for Inverclyde

He said: "Staff shortages and the ongoing Covid pandemic have clearly had a major impact but there is a longer-term loss of capacity at the IRH.

"One in six beds have been cut over the past decade.

"It is little wonder then that waiting times in 2021 were the worst on record and that the hospital only met the A&E weekly target once in the entire year.

"Our amazing and dedicated IRH staff are doing their utmost for patients.

"But they are facing truly intolerable pressures, many of which were avoidable and should have been foreseen."

Inverclyde's MSP Stuart McMillan told the Tele that the NHS has been facing 'unprecedented' challenges due to Covid pressures and the backlog of work that the pandemic had created.

The SNP man said: "The health secretary was clear that this would be the most difficult winter in NHS history, which follows on from the most challenging 18 months in the lifetime of the NHS.

"Emergency units across the UK continue to be affected the pandemic – but Scotland's core A&E departments continue to outperform those in the rest of the UK, and have done so for more than six years.

“NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde asked patients to only visit Emergency Departments if their care needs are urgent or life threatening, off the back of a survey of adult emergency departments indicating that many people are presenting with minor illness or injury.

"The NHS continues to see large numbers of people attending with symptoms that could be managed by speaking to a GP, local pharmacy or calling NHS24 on 111.

"I understand GPs locally are working hard to treat and speak with as many patients as possible, but the knock on effect of hospitals and emergency departments being busier is that GPs and NHS 24 will be busier.

"Almost two years of Covid restrictions have been difficult for everyone to deal with.

"However, our frontline NHS staff need our support and patience more than ever at present.”

Health board bosses told the Tele they wanted to thank staff for their tireless efforts.

They added: "It is testament to their hard work and commitment that we have been able to ensure more patients are seen, assessed, diagnosed and admitted or discharged within four hours.

"Despite the challenges faced by our teams in relation to tackling Covid-19 related and acute winter pressures, reducing the waiting time for patients in our emergency department at Inverclyde Royal Hospital is a key goal in responding to the current demand on services and we will continue to give this our utmost focus.

"This includes prioritising our patients based on clinical need and we would like to remind anyone who needs medical care, that unless it is urgent or life-threatening, please call NHS24 on 111, or speak to your local GP or pharmacist first

"By doing this, you can help to ensure that you will receive the right type of treatment, at the right time, and often without leaving your own home.

"It will also help protect our ED at the IRH for those who require urgent emergency care."