First Minister 'lied' in TV debate over children's ward closure - Willie Rennie

25 January 2018, 14:37


The First Minister has been accused of lying in a television debate over a decision to close a children's hospital ward.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie claimed Nicola Sturgeon is "hiding behind doctors" in the closure of the ward at Paisley's Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Speaking at First Minister's Questions, he said: "Doctors may have advised her to close the children's ward at Paisley but they did not force her to lie in that election TV debate.

"Is she not ashamed of blaming the doctors for her broken promise?"

She responded by calling Mr Rennie a "pathetic attention seeker" and said at the proposal to close the Royal Alexandra Hospital was not before the government at the time of the television debate in May 2016.

She said: "I am sorry if it upsets Willie Rennie but I am not prepared to apologise for listening to the doctors who know best about how to treat sick children in this country.

"There was at the time of that debate no proposal on the ward. There had been no clinical evidence presented. That changed in the months that followed."

Both MSPs were rebuked by the Presiding Officer for their language and told to "treat each other with respect".

The First Minister also faced questions on the ward closure from Labour leader Richard Leonard.

He asked said: "On May 1 2016 the First Minister told Gordon Clark on national television there were no proposals to close the children's ward at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.

"Now less than two years later her government is closing the children's ward down.

"Mr Clark is here today in the public gallery so will the First Minister take this opportunity to apologise to Mr Clark for misleading him?"

He added "this is about her integrity" and said people "feel betrayed".

Ms Sturgeon said immediately following the debate Labour claimed she had "refused to give a guarantee" to protect the children's ward now appear to have changed their position.

She added: "As this matter moves forward the interests and health of children will be paramount at all times."