Nicola Sturgeon ‘open to ideas’ on Scottish issues

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NICOLA Sturgeon signalled that she favoured a more consensual approach to government when she was tackled over access to cancer drugs and the early release of dangerous prisoners at First Minister’s Questions.

Fielding questions from opposition leaders at Holyrood shortly after she was sworn in as First Minister, Ms Sturgeon said she would adopt an open mind to suggestions offered by her opponents.

Nicola Sturgeon in her first FMQ's since becoming First Minister. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Nicola Sturgeon in her first FMQ's since becoming First Minister. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Challenged by Labour’s Jackie Baillie on delays in giving cancer patients life-extending drugs, Ms Sturgeon said she wanted to end the postcode lottery of treatment.

Ms Baillie had claimed that the Health Secretary had yet to meet his commitment to introduce a new drug system by May this year.

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The Labour MSP highlighted the case of Jean MacDonald from Glasgow, who had to pay £35,000 for drugs to fight her ovarian cancer when the same drugs were free to patients in Edinburgh.

Ms Sturgeon said that she was willing to meet with cancer patients who had expressed concern that they were not getting the best treatment.

In an attempt to move away from the combative style of Alex Salmond, Ms Sturgeon said she wanted an approach that differed from the “usual defensive ding-dong”.

Describing cancer treatment as a “heart-wrenching” and “complex” issue, she said: “In my first day in the job, I am open minded to any proposal on how we can do things better.”

A similar approach was adopted when the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson mentioned a high-profile rape case to highlight shortcomings in the justice system.

Ms Davidson called for an end to the early release of violent prisoners citing the case of Erin O’Neill, whose attacker Ross Wright raped her just six months after being released early from prison.

Ms O’Neill waived her right to anonymity to publicise the case.

Ms Sturgeon praised Ms O’Neill’s bravery in coming forward and suggested that politicians could work together to look at the issue.

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