Sturgeon rumbled on Scottish NHS figures

Sturgeon rumbled on Scottish NHS figures
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SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon bagged the 8:10am slot on this morning's Today programme but it didn't go quite as she might have planned. Scotland's first minister was asked whether it was appropriate for her to be attacking the Conservatives on the NHS when her party's own record was so woeful. Responsibility for the health service was devolved to the Scottish Parliament back in 1999 and has been under the control of the SNP since 2007.

Sturgeon was challenged on figures released by the government watchdog Audit Scotland, which said the SNP had missed six out of eight waiting time targets. The Scottish leader told the programme:

'Health services in every part of the UK, in fact probably in every part of the developed world, are facing big challenges just now as demand rises because of an ageing population. So the government here in Scotland, the health service here in Scotland, is not immune from that. But the Scottish government is addressing those challenges head-on...

'Audit Scotland, in its most recent overview report of the NHS, said that in seven out of the eight waiting times targets more people were being seen within those targets in the most recent year than had been the case in the year before. Accident and emergency services are doing much better than is the case in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.'

Today interviewer Martha Kearney questioned whether Sturgeon's interpretation of report was really accurate. She said:

'But if you look at the detail of the Audit Scotland report it says that the number of people seen did go up but that's because demand was higher so there were more patients overall. If you actually look at the percentage of patients [seen within the waiting time targets], that went down for five out of eight categories.'

Sturgeon went on to try and wriggle out of the criticisms, telling Kearney:

'I'm not sitting here saying it's job done in Scotland or that we are meeting those targets, the point I'm making is that we are making more progress in terms of building the capacity, doing the reforms in our health service that is required.'

Poor Nicola. It must be difficult learning to take responsibility for something when you've spent your entire political career blaming Westminster. You can listen to the full exchange here:

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from London and beyond. Email tips to

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