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by Louise Wilson
30 November 2023
Shona Robison defends NHS record as Anas Sarwar says performance getting ‘worse not better’

Shona Robison was in the hot seat at FMQs as Humza Yousaf attends COP28 | Alamy

Shona Robison defends NHS record as Anas Sarwar says performance getting ‘worse not better’

Shona Robison was forced to defend the Scottish Government’s record on the NHS after Anas Sarwar said waiting lists were getting “worse not better”.

The deputy first minister, who was taking FMQs as Humza Yousaf attends COP28 in Dubai, said there has been a reduction in long waits.

But Scottish Labour's Anas Sarwar said that 828,398 Scots were now stuck waiting for treatment, while 24,567 had died while on a waiting list in the last year.

He said: “Many of these people waited anxiously, often in pain, for potentially life-saving tests and operations.

“Two years ago, Humza Yousaf launched an NHS recovery plan that has failed. Things have gotten worse, not better.”

Robison accepted some people were waiting too long for treatment, but added: "We have seen a significant reduction in the longest waits since those targets were announced. We’ve also seen some improvements in diagnostic waiting times. The latest figures also show that NHS activity has increased… We are committed to further reductions through our £1bn investment in the NHS recovery plan.”

Sarwar said the plan was “not working” and that “people are dying”.

Referring to the row over health secretary Michael Matheson’s £11,000 data bill, Sarwar said the FM and Matheson were “going from crisis to crisis”. “We need a health secretary and a government focused on doing their jobs – not saving their jobs,” he added.

Tory Douglas Ross also raised the matter of Matheson's bill, saying the health secretary had “lost the confidence of the country”. He asked whether the DFM believed Matheson had been “100 per cent honest”.

Robison said it was important to allow the SPCB to investigate the matter.

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