Underfire health secretary Shona Robison is leaving Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet following months of criticism over her stewardship of the NHS.
Ms Robison, one of the First Minister’s closest friends, has written to Ms Sturgeon to say she is stepping down. Angela Constance has also written to the First Minister to say she is quitting as cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities.
They join Keith Brown, who has also left the Cabinet to concentrate in his role as SNP depute.
Among the junior ministers, Dr Alasdair Allan, Annabelle Ewing and Maureen Watt are departing from their positions of community safety minister, legal affairs minister and mental health minister.
Shona Robison said her three and half years as health secretary had been “very challenging and all consuming” in her resignation letter to the First Minister.
The Dundee City East MSP also said she had difficult personal issues to confront in the last year, including the death of her parents and a health scare.
In her letter to Ms Sturgeon, Ms Robison said: “As you know this year has been particularly challenging for me personally. Losing both my parents, having a health scare of my own and some big changes in my personal life. I thank-you for your support during these difficult times.
“I feel I have reached a point in my life just now where I would best to step from a role in government. I have entered a new chapter in my life including a new relationship where it would be good to take time to focus on those closest to me, who have too often had to come second place to my job, which has been hard for us all.”
Earlier this month Ms Robison revealed she had been recalled as part of the breast cancer screening programme. To her relief, she got the all clear.
She found the spotlight on her private life when her husband the SNP MP Stewart Hosie began a new relationship with the blogger Serena Cowdy.