The number of patients waiting more than 12 hours to be seen at Scottish accident and emergency departments has more than doubled in three years, new figures show.

In 2011, 882 people were not seen within that time, up from 400 in 2008.

Labour claimed the figures show that the health service is starting to “buckle under the pressure that the SNP has put it under”.

The NHS in Scotland has a target of 98 per cent of people waiting less than four hours from arrival at A&E to admission, discharge or transfer for treatment.

In the NHS Fife area, 476 people waiting in A&E departments were not seen after 12 hours, the highest number of all the health boards.

At Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline last year, 256 people waited longer than 12 hours to be seen, up from 35 in 2008. At Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, the number went from 30 in 2008 to 220 in 2011.

Across Scotland, 5,097 people were not seen within eight hours of arriving at A&E in 2011, more than double the 2,190 recorded in 2008.

The number of people waiting longer than eight hours was again highest in NHS Fife, at 1,588.

The figures were revealed by health secretary Nicola Sturgeon in answer to questions from Labour Central Scotland MSP Margaret McCulloch who branded them “shocking”.

She said: “Thousands of Scots who are in distress and needing urgent treatment are being left to wait for unacceptable amounts of time when they turn up at hospitals across Scotland.”

Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP has cut around 2,500 nurses who are vital in ensuring that patients are treated quickly, effectively and properly.

“These figures are more evidence of the NHS in Scotland beginning to buckle under the pressure that the SNP has put it under.

“Whilst Sturgeon and the rest of the SNP are obsessed with a separation referendum, the day-to-day workings of Scottish government are being neglected, and these figures are more evidence of this.”