A defiant Nicola Sturgeon yesterday attacked Labour claims that the SNP were cutting front line services in the Scottish NHS….
A defiant Nicola Sturgeon yesterday attacked Labour claims that the SNP were cutting front line services in the Scottish NHS.
The Health Minister was appearing on The Politics Show Scotland alongside Labour MSP Jackie Baillie who had accused the SNP government of “breathtaking dishonesty” and of planning to cut 5000 front line staff across Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon appeared calm and authoritative as she explained that far from introducing cuts to the NHS, the SNP had actually increased the funding levels. It also emerged that current staff levels are now greater than they were under Labour, something the SNP’s Health Minister guaranteed would still be the case when their current term in office ended.
Ms Sturgeon said:
“I guarantee that at the end of this SNP term of government there will be more people working in the NHS including front line clinical staff than was the case when we took office”.
The SNP have faced accusations from Labour that they are planning cuts to front line services after proposals from Health Boards revealed that staffing levels were too high. Labour have accused the Scottish government of planning the reductions and of trying to hide them from the public.
However the SNP’s health minister pointed out that Labour are aware that all health boards are required to submit such annual staffing plans and that staff levels change as patient services move. Ms Sturgeon explained that the SNP government will adhere to usual procedure and scrutinise the proposals.
The SNP Minister re-affirmed the SNP’s commitment to the NHS and pointed out that two accident and emergency units, earmarked for closure by Labour, had been kept open by the SNP as had children’s cancer centres and maternity services which had also been also targeted for closure by Labour.
The proposals for a reduction in head count by the health boards have yet to be ratified by the Scottish Government but Ms Sturgeon guaranteed that there would be no compulsory redundancies. The SNP MSP also highlighted the £500 million cut to the Scottish budget by Labour at Westminster.
When it was suggested to Labour’s Jackie Baillie that these were reasonable steps to take given the £500 million cut the Labour MSP refused to accept that there had been any cuts at all and instead argued that the grant had in fact increased.
However when asked if Labour had alternative plans to deal with the funding cuts that are inevitable given the state of the economy the Labour MSP struggled to articulate any alternative saying only that Labour would target administrators.
The exchanges can be viewed here: