FMQs: Sturgeon attacked over public services

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was criticised by Kezia Dugdale. Picture: Ian Rutherford
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was criticised by Kezia Dugdale. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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The SNP Government’s record on public services came under fire today amid claims that ministers have failed to “transform the nation.”

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale criticised Nicola Sturgeon over cuts in the justice system after a damning report by the public spending watchdog warned of mounting pressure and delays in the sheriff courts.

Ms Sturgeon also came under attack in First Ministers Questions over bed blocking in Scotland’s hospitals which trebled in recent years - despite the Health Secretary pledging to abolish this.

“Today’s Audit Scotland report is a withering assessment of our justice system under the SNP Government - budgets have been slashed, local courts closed and targets missed,” Ms Dugdale said today.

“It’s not just our courts that are facing the strain. As far back as 2011 Nicola Sturgeon said too many patients were being kept in hospital even though they were fit to leave. The fact that things are three times as bad now as they were in 2011 is unacceptable.

“The SNP have a chance to transform our nation so that everybody can get a fair shot at life but instead we have a government that is failing on justice, failing on health and we know from recent weeks failing on education.”

Ms Sturgeon said the Audit Scotland did not compare “like with like” because there has been major spending on court buildings in recent years which have not been taken into account.

The First Minister also said one of key reasons for pressure on courts is because there are more prosecutions for domestic abuse and historic sexual offences.

“That’s because there is more pro-active detection of these cases, there is increased confidence of victims in reporting these cases.

“I would have thought that is something that we should welcome and that the opposition should get behind the Government to make sure these cases come to court.”

The First Minister also defended the Government’s NHS record insisting that the number of days lost to bed blocking was down by nearly 10,000 since December last year.

“That’s the equivalent of every single acute medical bed in NHS Highland for an entire month.”

Ms Sturgeon accepted more action is needed but told MSPs “real progress is being made.”