"CRISIS" is not a word that should ever be used lightly. But, regrettably, when looking at Scotland's NHS right now, I see as clear an example of a crisis as there has been for quite some time.

Sadly, this is not a new or sudden development. Week after week, we have been seeing some of the worst A&E performance figures on record, with consistently over a quarter of patients having to wait longer than four hours to be seen.

The SNP's Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, has hardly inspired confidence in this situation either. Not content with having urged people not to phone for an ambulance, last week Mr Yousaf admitted it will take 'years' for NHS services to return to normal.

But as with so many services under this SNP Government, it is areas like Clackmannanshire that have been hit the hardest.

Because while health boards are struggling across Scotland, it is NHS Forth Valley that is consistently suffering the most and has recorded the longest waiting times of any health board in Scotland over the last three months.

As it stands, not even 60 per cent of patients attending A&E at Forth Valley Royal Hospital can expect to be seen within four hours, with this figure having reached a scarcely believable low of 41 per cent in October.

Recently these services have been so overwhelmed that, for five straight weeks, Forth Valley recorded over 100 people having to wait at least eight hours to be seen at A&E.

Figures such as these will be ringing alarm bells amongst SNP Ministers – and if they aren't, they certainty should be.

The hardworking doctors and hospital staff say they are doing everything possible to reduce waiting times, but they are inevitably facing an uphill battle

Because all too often, Clackmannanshire has been treated as an afterthought by an SNP Government that chooses to focus its time and resources on Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Communities across this region have been forced to spend years watching this SNP Government repeatedly centralise key services away from them.

Add to this the SNP's failure to tackle rural workforce shortages – something which long predates this pandemic – and it is sadly unsurprising that it is areas such as this that are bearing the brunt of this ongoing crisis.

As they have done already with several health boards across Scotland, our brave Armed Forces personnel stand ready to step-in and assist with these pressures in any way they can.

But in the long-term, the onus is very much on the SNP to come up with a credible plan to fully remobilise our NHS – and something far more substantial than the half-baked recovery plan that was unveiled all the way back in the summer.

Those of us served by NHS Forth Valley deserve better than this. But unless this SNP Government steps up and treats this situation like the crisis it so clearly is – and stops treating areas such as this as an afterthought – I fear we will see little improvement for some time to come.