Nicola Sturgeon was slammed for ‘making excuses’ about NHS chaos in Scotland today as she urged people to wear masks on public transport and if they have a cold.
Facing questions at a pandemic-style press briefing, the SNP leader admitted hospitals were nearly full and urged people to use helplines instead.
But she faced a backlash for blaming ‘extraordinary’ Covid and flu pressures for the crisis – saying the number of patients with coronavirus had doubled in the past four weeks.
Conceding that for some health workers the situation might feel even worse that at stages during the pandemic, Ms Sturgeon urged Scots to take ‘basic’ precautions, such as washing hands more frequently.
She said people should stay at home where possible if they have a cough or cold, and wear a mask if they do need to leave the house. The First Minister also stressed advice for all over-12s to wear face coverings on trains and buses.
Under an intense grilling, Ms Sturgeon claimed that the situation was still better than in England. ‘We are facing exceptional problems that are not unique to Scotland,’ she said.
‘In a relative sense, NHS Scotland is dealing with some of these pressures in a better way than we would see elsewhere and some of the statistics bear that out’.
SNP health spokesman Humza Yousaf admitted yesterday that the health service north of the border is in turmoil, with warnings that record A&E waits and delayed discharge numbers are costing patients their lives.
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: ‘When it comes to viruses, wearing an appropriate mask can help to play a part in not spreading them further.
‘However, the public should be left to make up their own minds when it comes to protecting their own health and that of others, rather than having to be guided by officials.’
‘Nicola Sturgeon was full of sympathy for let-down patients and warm words for over-stretched staff – but there were precious few concrete measures to turn things around.
‘This PR exercise was too little, too late.