Tories vow to give Shona Robison ‘final warning’ in Holyrood

Shona Robison, whose constituency is covered by NHS Tayside. Picture: Greg Macvean
Shona Robison, whose constituency is covered by NHS Tayside. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Shona Robison is to be warned that she is in the “last chance saloon” and must sort out NHS finances and the doctor recruitment crisis if she is to remain Health Secretary.

This week the Health Secretary will be told she is on her “final warning” when the Scottish Conservatives demand urgent action to sort out the problems facing the NHS.

Robison is already facing calls for her resignation from Labour and the Lib Dems with talks taking place behind the scenes between the parties over whether she should face a no confidence motion.

With her fate now in the hands of the Scottish Conservatives and Greens, the Health Secretary faces a crucial week at Holyrood.

On Wednesday, the Scottish Conservatives will call a debate focusing on the performance of the NHS. In particular, shadow secretary for Health & Sport Miles Briggs will say that Holyrood should have greater scrutiny over NHS finances following the revelations of mismanagement at NHS Tayside.

Robison, the MSP for Dundee City East, has been under pressure since it emerged that more than £2 million of her local health board’s endowment fund was used for routine NHS services.

The challenges faced by the NHS were further highlighted last week when it was revealed that NHS Lothian requires an extra £31 million to return services to the levels provided in 2017.

Briggs said: “We want to see parliament have more of a role in scrutinising this. This should be done by the health and sport committee as well as the audit committee. At the moment we are not being provided with the information to properly scrutinise health budgets.”

Briggs will also warn that Integrated Joint Boards set up to bring together health and social care are struggling for cash. And he will call for action to sort out the NHS recruitment crisis. An extra 856 GPs are required by 2021 to plug the staffing gap.

He said: “This is really the last chance saloon for Shona. A lot of people will be watching what she’s got to say and seeking real action to address these problems. It is no use just standing on the sidelines and hoping that it is going to get better which is what Shona and the Scottish Government are doing.”

Briggs added: “We are not going to call for her scalp for the sake of it, but she should be under no illusions that she has got to show that she’s up to the job.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The well-being of Scotland’s health service is a top priority for this government and we will continue to ensure that the NHS delivers the very best for patients and staff.”