THE number of Scots suffering from flu doubled last week, with the country in the grip of a “moderate” flu epidemic.

Statistics released yesterday show that the number of cases has jumped from from 46 per 100,000 people in the last week of December to 107 per 100,000 in the first week of January – four times what it was last year.

The rise is despite the current predominant strain affecting Scots being one covered by this year’s flu vaccine.

Most of the strains circulating are believed to be H3N2, the so-called “Aussie Flu”.

The statistics from Health Protection Scotland showed the hike was in all age groups, but suggested mortality rates because of the flu are still low compared to previous years.

Of the 53 people who have required intensive care, eight have died.

There has been considerable pressure put on Scotland’s A&Es.

Nicola Sturgeon said that, despite difficulties, “thanks to winter planning, and thanks to the efforts of our NHS staff, our NHS is coping admirably”.

Analysis has shown that A&E waiting times performance in December continued to be better in Scotland than in England, where senior doctors have warned that patients are “dying in hospital corridors”.

New figures on the NHS in England show that 77.3 per cent of “type 1” attendances at major A&E units were dealt with inside the four-hour target. Scottish figures are released weekly, but a calculation for four weeks in December shows the figure was 82.3 per cent.

Hospital waiting times were the main subject of yesterday’s First Minister’s Questions, with Labour leader Richard Leonard telling MSPs about 80-year-old Tom Wilson of Newtongrange, who fell on New Year’s Day and “lay bleeding for three-and-a-quarter hours waiting for an ambulance.”

The elderly man then had to spend “13 hours on a trolley in a corridor in accident and emergency before he was admitted to a general ward”, Leonard said.

The Labour leader read an extract of a letter from Wilson’s son Michael to Health Secretary Shona Robison, which said: “I am sure you will say that it’s got nothing to do with you or the SNP and blame Westminster. I’ve seen on the news your answer is ‘we are doing better than England’. Is this a joke?”

Leonard continued: “First Minister, you’ve been found out by the people of Scotland.”

He asked what Sturgeon was going to do to “fix this mess that you have created in our NHS.”

The First Minister replied: “I say sorry to Mr Wilson if that was his experience of the health service.

“I said earlier this week, and the Health Secretary said in the chamber, that we apologise unreservedly, not just at winter, but at any time of the year to any patient who waits longer than they should do for hospital treatment or doesn’t get the standard of treatment that they have a right to expect, and I do that again, unequivocally, today.”

She added: “I am not standing here saying – and we have not said at any stage – that some patients are not waiting longer during these winter times than we would want them to wait. That is down to the fact that we are facing demand and increases in demand that are unprecedented.”