During First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon received a grilling from all sides of the Scottish Parliament. The SNP leader was taken to task by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard over her Government’s record on the NHS. Ms Sturgeon caused the chamber to erupt in fury when she claimed the nationalists were “meeting the challenges” of running a health service better than the Tories in England or Labour in Wales.
Mr Leonard told the First Minister: “There is a workforce crisis in primary care services. It is happening now, it is happening here in Scotland, and it goes all the way back to the First Minister’s door.
“We know that it takes at least 10 years to train to be a GP, and 10 years ago the First Minister was a Health Secretary responsible. This winter saw the worst A&E performances on record. Thousands of patients waited over four hours for treatment.
“Last weekend, public health consultant Dr Elaine Irvine said, and I quote, ‘many would not need to use A&E if they had timely access to a GP who knows them’.
“First Minister, when will you accept that you can’t claim that you are protecting Scotland’s NHS if you are protecting Scotland’s local primary care services?”
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Ms Sturgeon shot back: “The NHS faces challenges in every single part of the UK.
“Health services face challenges in virtually every country in the world.
“We are pouring record sums of money into our National Health Service.
“We have record numbers of people working in our National Health Service, we have increased the number of GPs and GPs-in-training.”
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She continued: “That’s why our health service is performing better.
“Yes it’s still facing challenges, but performing better than any other part of the UK.
“Richard Leonard wants to make this all about the SNP which is why it is entirely legitimate to contrast and compare.”
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The First Minister added: “They say things would be better if the Tories were in power, he says things would be better if Labour were in power so let’s look at the reality here in Scotland.
“Richard Leonard mentioned A&E performance. In December last year, against the four hour target, the performance in Scotland was 81.6 percent. That is not good enough?
“In Tory England though, it was 68.6 percent. 68.6 percent where the Tories are running a Government.
“Where Labour is running a Government in Wales, it was 66.4 percent.
“So yes our health service faces challenges, but all of the evidence says it’s the SNP that is meeting those challenges better than any other party in the UK.”