Nicola Sturgeon "lied" over axed children's ward

Shona Robison backed the closure of  the children's ward in Paisley
Shona Robison backed the closure of the children's ward in Paisley
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A local campaigner who clashed with Nicoal Sturgeon in a televised debate over a threatened hospital children's ward has accused the First Minister of "lying" over its closure.

Gordon Clark was at Holyrood today to listen to First Ministers Questions where Ms Sturgeon was urged to apologise to him by Labour leader Richard Leonard. It came after e closure of the children's ward at the Royal Alexandra hospital in Paisley was confirmed last week.

Mr Clark also hit out at local MP Mhairi Black over her failure to lobby Ms Sturgeon for it to be saved.

The campaigner raised the issue during a debate hustings on the BBC during the Holyrood election campaign of 2016, but Ms Sturgeon told him at the time there were no plans to close the ward.

The 57-year-old said after First Minister Questions today that Ms Sturgeon had misled locals to win the election.

Read more: SNP accused of betrayal over closure of children’s ward

"I only went through there (to the debate) to ask an honest question to give the people in Paisley and Renfrewshire some kind of idea of what was going to happen to their local ward.

"That's all it was about and the fact that she was prepared to lie for gain at the election, I think is totally disgusting."

Ms Black criticised the decision in her newspaper column this week, but Mr Clark also hit out at the MP's approach.

"If Mhairi Black has said that, then why has she not put pressure on the First Minister, why is she not coming out in local papers and really pushing for it.

"If she really believes that, and if Mhairi Black says that, then I need to applaud the fact that hopefully she's seeing it's not just about the clinical side, it's about the whole holistic approach and how important wards are, especially for children and young people."

The decision to close the hospital was confirmed by Health Secretary Shona Robison last week.

Read more: Hospitals and NHS Scotland facilities ‘may need to be axed’
Labour say that leaked proposals from the health board to close the ward had emerged the press and been debated in Parliament before Ms Sturgeon appeared in the TV debate during the election campaign.

The First Minister insisted today said that no formal proposals had been made to ministers to close the ward and these only came forward a year after the TV debate.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that closing the ward was the "most difficult decision" that the Health Secretary has had to make.

She said the decision was "based on clinical evidence" and added that the paediatric clinicians at the hospital said this week that change will help ensure high quality health care is delivered to children.

"As this matter moves forward, the interest and the health of children will be absolutely paramount at every stage."

19 hospital wards and NHS units across Scotland face cuts
She later came under fire from Liberal Democrat who accepted that medical experts had advised against the closure of the ward.

But he added: "They did not force her to lie in that TV debate."