Health secretary must go if waiting times don’t improve

The job of Scotland’s health secretary is safe even if “shocking” waiting times aren’t improved, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister confirmed no-one in her government would take responsibility for the pledge, after it emerged this week that the number of patients being seen within the target 12 weeks had fallen to a record low since its introduction in 2012.

That’s despite the SNP government making the 12-week timeframe a legal guarantee.

In addressing the crisis, ministers stated that – by October – at least 75 per cent of patients would be treated on time, with the latest figures currently sitting at 68 per cent.

Now Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said, should that target not be hit, health secretary Jeane Freeman will have to go.

However, in her response at First Minister’s Questions today, Nicola Sturgeon said her plan to improve waiting times “is not failing” and that she planned to stick to it.

And she refused to say Ms Freeman would be judged on the target, instead saying she was “getting on with the job of delivering for patients”.


Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:

“The First Minister should be making it clear that failure to meet legal guarantees for patients is unacceptable.

“Instead, her message is – fail and keep your job.

“That’s the SNP way: a breached promise to patients on waiting times, but a blanket guarantee to the minister responsible that she’ll keep her job regardless.

“For Nicola Sturgeon to claim the plan isn’t failing is frankly delusional. The performance on waiting times is shocking.

“It’s insulting to the patients who are painfully waiting for their treatment, and insulting to the general public who expect honesty from their First Minister.

“Nicola Sturgeon needs to get a grip and make clear that if the current health secretary can’t make the improvements to hospital waiting times, then she’ll find somebody else who can.”