21 Jun 2012
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has refused to condemn striking doctors whose action, she revealed today, has led to the cancellation of 3,600 procedures in Scotland.
The minister was standing in for Alex Salmond at First Minister’s Questions, having earlier voiced her sympathy for doctors who do not think a £68,000-a-year pension is sufficient.
But she refused to side with thousands of Scottish patients, who the minister confirmed have been heavily affected by the action.
In response to questions from Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson, the health secretary admitted that at least 3,200 outpatient appointments and 450 in-patient and day-case procedures had been cancelled.
In addition, she confirmed, 60 per cent of GP surgeries across Scotland have been affected, implying that 40 per cent of family doctors do not believe the action is justified.
Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson MSP said:
“This morning Nicola Sturgeon said she had sympathy with doctors who are striking because they don’t think a £68,000-a-year pension is enough.
“She had the opportunity today to reflect the view of patients and the wider public in Scotland by condemning this move.
“But she failed to do this, and took the usual SNP approach of saying they would do something else to solve the problem, they just didn’t know what.
“We learned today that thousands of patients who thought they were due to attend hospital have been sent packing – not to mention the thousands more whose GP surgery is out of action.
“Scotland’s Health Secretary should be standing up for these people, after all the taxpayer contributes £50,000 a year to these £68,000 pensions.
“Instead, she has cowered away from the issue, criticising the UK Government without saying what she would do differently.
“It is not enough to say she deeply regrets the action – what we need to know is did she ask the BMA to call this off?
“According to the minister, 40 per cent of GP surgeries aren’t even taking part in this action.
“Nicola Sturgeon is out of step with the patients of Scotland.”