Nicola Sturgeon challenged on SNP health record

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that waiting times in Scotland are “not good enough” as she was challenged over the SNP record on health.

Ms Sturgeon was questioned on issues from waiting times and problems with hospital construction to drug deaths in an interview on The Andrew Neil Interviews on BBC One.

Mr Neil referred to Ms Sturgeon’s pledge as health secretary that all patients should receive treatment within 12 weeks.

Asked what proportion of patients were being seen within the 12-week target Ms Sturgeon said it was “80% or so, it should be 95%”.

When Mr Neil said it was 72% she replied: “Indeed, it’s not good enough but all health services are undergoing pressure from increased demand. Scotland is no different there.”

Mr Neil pressed her further about waiting time targets and drug deaths.

He said: “Only two of your eight waiting time targets being hit – you’ve been in for a long while, you haven’t hit the A&E target since 2017, the two-month cancer target you haven’t met since 2013.

“You’ve got the worst drug addiction problem in Europe, but you cut drug treatment budgets by £15 million.”

Andrew Neil
Andrew Neil

Mr Neil also referred to the scandal-hit Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow where concerns have been raised about water contamination after two children died, and the delayed Royal Hospital for Sick Children, which was supposed to open in Edinburgh over the summer.

She replied: “if you take waiting times, we had the Audit Scotland report saying that we are seeing more patients within these targets because the investment we’re putting in is having that effect. So we’re having improvements and delivering improvements. There have been issues with the construction of the sick kids’ hospital in Edinburgh, with a ventilation system. We are putting that right.

“There have been construction difficulties, I don’t deny that at all. There is going to be a full public inquiry into the reasons around that. On drugs we have an issue, but some of the reasons for that go back a long time.

“We have a taskforce that is looking at the solutions we have to take forward there. We have increased the investment in drug treatment services. So health services everywhere have challenges. We are not immune from that.

“But I believe that we are doing the things that are required to fix those challenges and to make sure that we have the health service that people expect.”