FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon accused of 'disrespecting' Presiding Officer in tense Scottish Parliament exchange over Scotland's NHS

Nicola Sturgeon was accused of “disrespecting” the Presiding Officer in a tense exchange at Holyrood as she acknowledged pressures on Scotland’s health system were “very serious”.

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone interjected twice to ask Ms Sturgeon to “briefly” answer the questions, as the First Minister was told Scotland’s struggling NHS system was at a “tipping point” in an exchange that was targeted by Scottish Tories leader Douglas Ross.

Ms Sturgeon responded to say: “I will be as brief as possible – this is important stuff, Presiding Officer.”

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Mr Ross said: "I think the concerns from these benches was for the First Minister apparently disrespecting the Presiding Officer, who is asking to focus on the issues.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks to the media at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

"And perhaps the First Minister would have more time to focus on the issues about the questions on Scotland’s NHS if she didn’t try to throw the blame elsewhere around the United Kingdom. Because the unique issue here is Nicola Sturgeon and her Government are in sole control of the NHS here in Scotland.”

Ms Sturgeon was heavily quizzed on record-low waiting time figures. Recent statistics have shown more than 1,000 people at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) alone during one week were not treated within the Government’s waiting time target of four hours.

Mr Ross asked: "It is the worst-ever performance in Scotland’s A&E departments, so what specific actions is the First Minister taking to stop people waiting hours on end at accident-and-emergency departments over Christmas?

Ms Sturgeon said additional wards were being opened at QEUH and the ‘discharge without delay’ system was being improved in a bid to have an extra two to three additional patients discharged in each ward every day.

"The performance there [at QEUH] as it is in hospitals across Scotland is not where we want it to be and certainly not where patients have a right to expect it to be,” Ms Sturgeon said. “That said, the most recent statistic showed performance at the Queen Elizabeth had improved.”

She added: “This situation, of course, is of concern to me, to the Government, and we’re working hard to address this supporting the health service. Of course, it is not unique to Scotland.”



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