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by Louise Wilson
23 September 2021
FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon ‘hiding behind Covid’ on A&E waiting times – Douglas Ross

FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon ‘hiding behind Covid’ on A&E waiting times – Douglas Ross

The First Minister has been accused of “hiding behind Covid” over failures to tackle A&E waiting times.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross used First Minister’s Questions to urge the Scottish Government to do more to bring down the number of people waiting for hours in emergency rooms.

The most recent figures found just seven in ten people were being seen within the four-hour waiting time target, the worst on record.

Nicola Sturgeon accepted the figures were “not good enough”, but added: “We will continue to invest in staff, we will continue to invest in the NHS overall and we will continue to support the reforms that allow patients to use the NHS more quickly than is the case at the moment.”

She also said pressure on A&E departments was being seen “right across the UK” and suggested the NHS in Scotland was performing better than counterparts in England and Wales.

Ross said that would give “little comfort” to the more than 8,000 people having to wait more than half a day to be seen.

Adding that NHS capacity was down in several areas, he accused the government of “putting sticking plasters on each new crisis instead of planning to stop them in the first place”.

Suggesting she was “hiding behind Covid”, Ross said: “The pandemic has completed exposed her government’s poor record on running Scotland’s NHS.”

On comparisons with elsewhere in the UK, he added: “Nicola Sturgeon is Scotland’s First Minister. She was Scotland’s health secretary. I would like her to take some responsibility for what is happening in Scotland’s health service.”

Sturgeon accepted there had been pressure on the NHS before the pandemic but insisted that “real progress was being made” on waiting times up until March 2020.

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