Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar criticised the government’s ‘catch-up plan’, saying it had failed patients and staff, and listed missed waiting-time targets.
Now, there are times when politics is something of a game. MSPs will furiously condemn one another in the debating chamber before happily joking with each other in the canteen.
However, Nicola Sturgeon’s response that “sound bites and faux anger will not address the challenges in the health service” was utterly misplaced and tone deaf. She did add that “patients and the public have a right to be angry and frustrated right now”. But so do politicians.
Indeed, if MSPs are not angry about the state of the NHS, they should look for another career. We can assure them that many NHS staff, including striking nurses, are furious about the unacceptable situation that has been allowed to develop.
Sarwar, a member of the party that set up the health service, has every right to voice genuine anger with the government. Sturgeon can dismiss his words as “sound bites” but it is his job to point out her failings and it is her job, not his, to “address the challenges in the health service”.
Perhaps the First Minister has been in power too long and has forgotten the world outside the Holyrood bubble, where the decisions MSPs make can be a matter of life and death. If Sarwar managed to convey public anger, he deserves credit, not contempt.