Scottish Daily Mail
MSPs dash to shame Sturgeon over NHS
They snub Corbyn to vote
NICOLA Sturgeon suffered a rare rebuke at Holyrood last night after Labour MSPs snubbed Jeremy Corbyn’s keynote party conference speech to rush back from Liverpool and vote against her SNP administration.
A Labour motion condemning the Scottish Government’s approach to the closure of local hospital departments was carried after the Conservatives, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats all united against the SNP.
The result will not be binding on the Scottish Government as ministers are not obliged to call in any of the proposed closure plans, taking them out of the hands of the local health board, as Labour demanded.
But the vote will pile further pressure on Miss Sturgeon’s administration, which is already having to deal with local campaigns set up to keep the units and hospitals open.
Four Labour MSPs, including Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale, left the Labour conference in Liverpool early to make sure they were back for the crucial vote.
All four missed Mr Corbyn’s leader’s speech to the conference but a spokesman denied that they had deliberately snubbed the newly re-elected leader.
The spokesman said: ‘This was a Labour opposition day debate at Holyrood. Given how close the vote was going to be, and that this was a chance to defeat the Government, there was no snub. This was important.’
Aware that the Government was going to be defeated, SNP business managers ordered all their MSPs to abstain.
As a result, the vote, when it came, was not close, with 64 votes for the Labour motion, no votes against and 62 abstentions. Without a majority, Miss Sturgeon was never able to command the number of MSPs she needed to survive this parliamentary test and the vote.
The setback for the First Minister follows last week’s decision by MSPs to vote against the Scottish Government on the council tax – a vote which Miss Sturgeon’s administration survived only because Miss Dugdale’s voting terminal did not record her vote.
This time the issue was the closure of local hospitals. Labour’s motion called on the Scottish Government to ‘call in’ a number of potential hospital and unit closures, taking them away from the local health boards and saving the departments.
Anas Sarwar, for Labour, claimed that maternity services at both the Vale of Leven and Inverclyde hospitals were under threat and that paediatric services at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Renfrewshire, and trauma orthopaedics at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, were also at risk.
He raised concern over inpatient services at the Centre for Intecould grated Care in Glasgow, cleft palate services at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh and the closure of Glasgow’s Lightburn Hospital.
Mr Sarwar called on Health Secretary Shona Robison to call in the health board plans in all these cases so the Scottish Government save them all. He said the voters ‘would not forgive’ any minister who failed to save their local services and he appealed to other parties in the chamber to ‘put aside party allegiances and work together to protect our local health services’.
Miss Robison rejected Mr Sarwar’s appeal, insisting that she would make decisions on each one of the closure proposals when she had all the evidence.
She said: ‘This Government remains committed to robust evidence-based policy making. I am prepared to take difficult decisions where the evidence supports it.’
Miss Robison said the SNP administration had a proud history of protecting and enhancing local health services as well as delivering record funding and staffing for the Scottish health service.
‘Work together to protect services’