Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has hailed the “best ever” waiting time figures achieved by the NHS in Scotland.

Official statistics showed at the end of June this year 99.9% of new hospital outpatients had been waiting less than 12 weeks.

A total of 99.8% of those waiting for inpatient and day case treatment had been dealt with in less than nine weeks - even though the current target is for them to be seen in 12 weeks.

In addition, 97.5% of those who went to accident and emergency for treatment in June were seen within four hours.

All patients who were waiting for eight key diagnostic tests and investigations at the end of March waited no more than six weeks.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The NHS in Scotland must be congratulated for its continuing commitment to improving performance.

“These results represent the best-ever performance by the health service north of the border and this is in no small part as a result of the hard work and determination of staff.”

She added: “Waiting for diagnosis or treatment can be an anxious time for patients and their families, and that’s why the government and NHS Scotland have put such a priority on cutting waiting times.

“The NHS has shown once again that it is in an excellent position to meet the 18 weeks referral to treatment target set to be introduced at the end of 2011.”