Shona Robison denies NHS decisions being delayed until after election

Health Secretary Shona Robison
Health Secretary Shona Robison
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The Health Secretary has denied that decisions on local NHS services are being delayed until after the Holyrood election.

Shona Robison launched an attack on “rag, tag and bobtail” Labour after being accused of being dishonest with the electorate over the future of some wards and hospitals.

Honest governments, I believe, will make decisions that are in the best interests of people and work with them to manage any change that decision brings.

Jenny Marra, Labour equalities spokeswoman

She criticised her opponents’ “lack of self-awareness” during a Holyrood debate on reported plans for potential closures.

Labour’s motion called for the continuation of current services such as the Royal Alexandra Hospital children’s ward and the Lightburn Hospital in Glasgow, emergency care services at the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria and the children’s ward at St John’s Hospital in Livingston.

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Equalities spokeswoman Jenny Marra said “question marks” hang over many local communities.

She said: “The injustice of these question marks and the reason we bring this to the Cabinet Secretary today is that it is simply not fair that these questions persistently hang in the air and it is certainly not fair that these question marks hang in the air until after the election in May.

“Honest governments, I believe, will make decisions that are in the best interests of people and work with them to manage any change that decision brings, but they should have the courage of their convictions and the confidence of their arguments.

“But it is not right that all of these crucial decisions are left in the balance because the Government does not want to be asked any difficult questions or face any opposition from local groups before the election in May.”

She added: “I do not think that is a fair and honest way to run the country or our health service and the Scottish people deserve honest government.”

Ms Robison said that despite the motion calling for the retention of emergency care services at the Vale of Leven, the hospital’s A&E department had closed in 2002 under the previous Labour-led administration.

She pointed out that the SNP had in 2007 overturned that administration’s decision to close the A&E departments at Monklands and Ayr hospitals.

The Health Secretary said: “There are no proposals for closure of any of these services mentioned in the motion, none of them have come to me or indeed have even been approved by closure by any of the local boards themselves. None of them, unlike of course the record of the previous administration.

“We have a coherent plan in the national clinical strategy and of course the national conversation launched last August seeks public views on these ideas and asks them what their priorities are.

“I would just contrast this with the rag, tag and bobtail motion written clearly on the back of a fag packet which has more to do with trying to save the seats of a number of Labour MSPs and has nothing to do with wanting to protect vital local services.

“Labour have no coherent health policy, bereft of ideas, nothing to offer the Scottish people - the paucity of their motion demonstrates that.”

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