FMQs sketch: Paging Doctor Ross

MAYBE it’s his initials, or the fact George Clooney once played him in ER, but Douglas Ross seems to think he’s a doctor these days at FMQs.

Whatever the problem with Scotland’s NHS, he can instantly diagnose it. Alas, he’s no pharmacist, so he never quite gets round to issuing any prescriptions. 

But, hey, that’s not his job. He’s got loads of those already. 

Yesterday, he asked Nicola Sturgeon about the latest record rise in A&E waiting times. 

The number of groaning souls waiting over half a day to be seen is 10 times what it was two years ago, he said. And Dr Ross had his finger on the pulse of the guilty party. 

So, which of her multiple failings on the health service did the FM regret most? he asked.

Ms Sturgeon cracked her knuckles and aimed a bigger number right up his stethoscope. 

“Since the Government took office the number of A& E consultants working in our national health service has increased by 242 per cent,” she said, as if that meant something to the bandaged masses, before muttering that geological waiting times were “not good enough”.

And don’t forget that waits are worse in England and Wales, she added. Coronavirus, you know.

Dr Doogie came back at her with an even bigger number. 

“Nicola Sturgeon is hiding behind Covid, but it is not all down to the pandemic,” he declared.

“Since 2015, more than 850,000 people have waited longer than the four-hour target time at A&E.”

Doctors (real ones) say we need 1000 more acute beds, he went on. How many has the FM identified?

But Ms Sturgeon had her own number, and she was sticking to it.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly Douglas Ross did not refer to this… but I said that there has been a 242% increase in A&E consultants since the Government took office.” 

As for fewer beds, that too was “a picture replicated across the whole of the UK”, she said. Why, there are vast tracts of land and sea that haven’t got a bed on ‘em.  

The Moray MD was appalled.

“In both her answers, the First Minister talked about the A&E consultants statistic,” he sneered.

“Clearly, one of her many media advisers told her that that statistic was a zinger and that she should use that answer for anything about A&E waiting times. “

At which he reached for his own pet stat and crowbarred it in.

“The statistic gives little comfort to the 850,000 people who have waited longer than the target time that she and her Government set.”

There was more nonsense when Labour’s Anas Sarwar asked about the rubbishness of Scotland’s ferries, and why the state-owned ferry builder, Ferguson Marine, couldn’t even win a contract from the state-owned ferry buyer.

“Ferguson’s is on a journey,” Ms Sturgeon replied to some laughter.

Well, at least someone’s on a journey. Perhaps they can give tips to the Ambulance Service.


The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992