Labour blaming Westminster for state of the NHS in Wales but her in Scotland says Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon has said that Labour in Wales and Scotland are making contradictory arguments when it comes to where the blame should lie for problems in the NHS in both countries.
The Scottish First Minister said that Labour in Wales – where they are in power – were blaming the Westminster funding squeeze for the problems, while Labour in Scotland – where they are in opposition – were arguing that it was the devolved government’s responsibility.
The state of the NHS has been the subject of heated debate both in Wales and Scotland over the past few years, with Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford left visibly angry with Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies over a question about ambulance waiting times.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Labour party that they should take a leaf out of Mark Drakeford’s book and point the finger of blame at Westminster.
“Our NHS is not immune from wider economic and budgetary decisions that, unfortunately, are outwith the hands of this Government,” she said.
“I wish that we could invest much, much more in our national health service.
“I agree very much with the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, who recognises that, although it is his responsibility to manage the health service in Wales, that has been impacted by the decisions of the Tories at Westminster.
“He can recognise that, so I am left wondering why Anas Sarwar, instead of making sure that people understand the impact of Tory decisions, wants to pretend that it does not exist.”
She added: “The Welsh Labour health minister said recently that the NHS in Wales next year would be ‘hell on earth’ without additional funding from the United Kingdom Government.
“She said that the Welsh Government faces a ‘real nightmare’ in running the NHS next year unless the UK Government steps up with additional funding.
“How come it is the case that Labour in Wales can recognise that reality, but Labour in Scotland is clearly so thirled to defending Tories that they are blind to that reality?”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar responded that blaming Westminster would not be enough to get the First Minister off the hook for the Scottish NHS’s problems.
“I will never shy away from attacking the Tories for their decisions, but this Government needs to recognise its responsibility for the decisions that it makes and the impact that they have,” he said.
“There is always somebody else to blame; it is always somebody else’s fault.
“It is the same old soundbites and the same old script from this tired First Minister.”
Writing in the Times, political pundit Alex Massie also said that the comparison between the Welsh and Scottish NHS was unfair.
He pointed out that the Barnett formula that assigns Wales and Scotland a population share of England’s spending in devolved areas such as the health service was much more generous to Scotland.
“Poor old Joel Barnett — the ghost in question — nods at this, recalling that his funding formula squeezes Wales while benefiting Scotland more than any other part of the United Kingdom,” he said.
“No wonder this may never, on pain of political death, be mentioned.”
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