ALEX Salmond was accused of presiding over hundreds of millions of pounds of cuts to the NHS by Labour leader Johann Lamont at First Minister’s Questions.
Ms Lamont said the NHS was facing a £1 billion repair bill, with real-terms cuts of £200m. She highlighted reports from Scotland’s auditor general, Caroline Gardner, which voiced concerns about the NHS and college funding.
Ms Lamont accused Mr Salmond of “breathtaking complacency” over the NHS during a bad-tempered clash at Holyrood yesterday. She said the First Minister was “storing up problems for the future”, as she also claimed funding for colleges had been cut by the Scottish Government.
However, Mr Salmond attacked a move by Ms Lamont to set up a Labour commission to look into ending free universal services, such as free university tuition and free prescriptions.
Mr Salmond insisted free services were part of the “gains of devolution”, which he accused Labour of putting “at risk” by its review.
Ms Lamont challenged the First Minister on public spending and said Ms Gardner described the NHS in Scotland as being on “an amber warning”. She added: “According to Audit Scotland, the NHS has an outstanding £1bn in terms of repairs. They have lost more than 2,000 nurses. The First Minister has imposed real-terms cuts to the NHS of almost £200m.”
Ms Lamont said Labour was accused of “scaremongering” on colleges when it said spending was being cut by a quarter.
“The Auditor General has now said, not once but twice, that college budgets have been cut by 24 per cent in real terms. Is she right, or is she scaremongering too?” Ms Lamont asked.
Mr Salmond, who is now Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister, pointing out that Ms Lamont is the fourth Labour leader he has faced, said: “How can Labour maintain the position that spending on weapons of mass destruction is essential, but services for the people of Scotland can be dispensed with?”
The First Minister defended his government’s performance, saying a recent Audit Scotland report “pointed out that Scotland’s health service is well-managed in terms of its finances”.a