HEALTH MATTERS: Instead of admitting mistakes now Sturgeon should have heeded the warnings last year

Deaths increased exponentially after Covid patients were moved to care homes.

By Lucy Ashton

Health matters were high on the Scottish Parliament election agenda this weekend.

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon admitting that it was a mistake to discharge Covid patients into care homes, LibDem leader Willie Rennie said: “When I hear this admission from Nicola Sturgeon I think of the thousands of families who have been torn apart by the deaths of loved ones in care homes.

“Instead of admitting mistakes now the First Minister should have heeded the warnings last year when I repeatedly urged her to test before admission to care homes.

“Admitting mistakes now does not absolve her of responsibility. This is why we need an urgent inquiry so lessons can be learned.”

Meanwhile, responding to the Scottish Conservatives healthcare proposals, Scot Lib Dem health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Scottish Conservatives voted against £120 million extra spending for mental health secured by Scottish Liberal Democrats in the last budget and their colleagues in Westminster are proposing to saddle NHS staff with a measly 1% pay rise.

“Douglas Ross is Boris Johnson’s man in Scotland, he cannot be trusted with our health service.

“If people want a party who will put recovery first and help our health service to bounce back from the pandemic, they should vote for the Scottish Liberal Democrats.”

LibDem leader Willie Rennie, Conservative Douglas Ross and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Following Nicola Sturgeon’s interview on Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News, Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael said: “If working with Alex Salmond were the only barrier to an independent Scotland you can bet Nicola Sturgeon would be his bosom buddy once again before you knew it.

“Nicola Sturgeon spent years urging the public to put Alex Salmond in charge of an independent Scotland, long after the average Scot had a good grasp of what kind of man he was.

“Rather than a nationalist government bickering among themselves over a timeline for independence, we need a government that will put the recovery first.”

Willie Rennie has today expanded on his party’s proposals to extend free early learning and childcare, close the poverty-related attainment gap and help parents who want to return to work. The party is reaching out to people who have voted SNP with this bold package of support.

The party’s manifesto includes plans to:

  • Increase the 1140 hours’ entitlement to cover all 2-year-olds
  • Expand nursery education to meet the existing promise of hours for 3 and 4-year-olds and to add the flexibility and choice parents were told to expect
  • Introduce an ambition to extend funded childcare to 1-year-olds.
  • Remove for August the £4,500 ELC price tag hanging over families considering deferring Primary 1.
  • Encourage parents to study and learn new skills by extending childcare for students to cover periods of independent study and vocational placements.

In 2014, the LIbDems and Save the Children succeeded in persuading Alex Salmond to offer free early years provision for 2-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Willie Rennie said: “I want to put recovery first to close the attainment gap and help children bounce back from the disruption to their learning.

“Thanks to us, two-year-olds from poorer backgrounds are already entitled to funded childcare. This should help improve their chances, but uptake in Scotland is only half what it is in England. The outreach work hasn’t been done meaning many parents don’t even know about the entitlement.

“We will now go further and make a big liberal offer to all families. Extending childcare to all two-year-olds will boost uptake, help close the poverty-related attainment gap and help parents who want to return to work.

“The independent Audit Scotland just concluded progress on the attainment gap was ‘limited’ and ‘fell short’ when it was supposedly Nicola Sturgeon’s defining mission.

“She asked to be judged on it. We are winning votes from the SNP because people don’t want education to play second fiddle to a referendum in the next parliament.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will put recovery first with a needle-sharp focus on education and a big liberal offer for early learning and childcare.”

A 2019 Save the Children report on uptake of funded childcare for two year olds in Scotland is available here. It showed only a third of eligible families taking up their entitlement.



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