The First Minister defended Humza Yousaf during First Minister’s Questions after Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, challenged her on reports NHS chiefs had discussed options for the future of the NHS, including a potential “two tier” system where richer patients could pay for certain treatments.
Mr Ross highlighted a higher percentage growth in the number of people going private in Scotland, accusing the SNP of overseeing a system that is already sliding towards a “two tier” system.
He said: “It is quite clear that the First Minister is in complete denial about how badly her health secretary is handling the NHS crisis, in denial about the scale of privatisation in the health service she oversees, and in denial about Humza Yousaf’s two-tier system which is already becoming the norm in Scotland.
"She has become so distracted, focusing on her own political priorities that she no longer realises just how bad the situation has got here in Scotland.
"The minutes of this meeting of NHS chiefs claim there is a disconnect between what’s happening on the frontline and what the health secretary thinks is happening.
"They accuse Humza Yousaf of “being divorced from reality”, they’re right aren’t they First Minister?”
Defending her health secretary who has been under pressure to resign from opposition politicians, Ms Sturgeon said: “no they are not”. She also highlighted a vote in the House of Commons which she said would have protected the NHS from privatisation, highlighting Mr Ross did not vote for it.
She added: “There is higher funding for the NHS in Scotland than there is for England’s Tory run NHS, there is higher staffing per head of population in Scotland than there is in England, and of course NHS Scotland, thanks to the dedication of every single worker who works in it is better performing than the NHS in other parts of the UK.
"This government will always work to protect the founding principles of the NHS, which is more than can be said for Douglas Ross.
"Even when he gets the chance, he doesn’t stand up for the principles of the NHS, this government always will.”