More than 3,000 people waited longer than eight hours for an ambulance in Scotland last year, figures have shown.
Statistics released to the Scottish Liberal Democrats under Freedom of Information legislation showed that 3,652 people waited more than 480 minutes for an ambulance.
Five of these were considered the second most severe level by the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), with one person waiting a day and a half.
The figure amounts to less than 0.7% of total ambulance callouts in 2021.
Callouts are considered “red” when there is a 1% to 9.9% chance of cardiac arrest in the patient, or if the need for resuscitation is 2% or higher.
Around 45 people in the “amber” category waited for more than than eight hours in 2021-22, while 3,602 were in the lowest “yellow” category.
The figured showed that at least one person waited longer than six hours for an ambulance after being assessed as a “purple” call – where the rate of cardiac arrest is approximately 53% – although the exact number waiting this long is not known since it is lower than five.
The longest response time for purple calls last year was just over six hours (363 minutes) while a person in the red category waited for 36 hours and 15 minutes (2,175 minutes).
The longest time for amber or yellow category calls was around 29 hours.
“When someone is in a moment of crisis and chooses to call 999, they want to know that there will be someone at the other end of the line able to help them,” said Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.
“These figures should set emergency lights flashing in the Health Secretary’s office.”
He called for an inquiry into “avoidable emergency care deaths”, adding: “Swift action might be the difference between life and death.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The pandemic has been the biggest challenge the NHS has faced in its 74-year existence and has heaped pressure on our ambulance service and wider NHS.
“Our ambulance crews continue to see a rise in response to the most serious incidents but continue to respond to 99% of high priority calls in under 30 minutes.
“Our funding boost to the service, which has seen record recruitment of 540 additional ambulance staff last year, to ensure it is working as efficiently as possible.”