FMQs Sketch: A&E and Douglas Ross’ impression of an eight-year-old girl

FMQs Sketch: A&E and Douglas Ross' impression of an eight-year-old girl

NEW A&E waiting times figures have been released which show that, in the week ending 11th of September, only 63.5% of patients were dealt with within four hours.

The Health Secretary said the figures were “not acceptable” and pledged to improve performance.

Unsurprisingly, both Anas Sarwar and Douglas Ross raised the issue during FMQs on Thursday.

Douglas Ross kicked things off by asking what action Nicola Sturgeon was taking now to reduce waiting times.

READ MORE: Scotland’s A&E waiting times better than the rest of the UK, Nicola Sturgeon stresses

She said that the most recent performance figures were “not good enough” and reflected the significant pressure felt across health and social care arising from the pandemic.

She then deployed a politician’s favorite weapon: the stats bomb. The First Minister reeled off a series of big numbers: of all the NHS staff that have been recruited and all the cash that has been spent and what percentage of hip operations she has personally carried out.

Douglas Ross might have been secretly impressed, if she hadn’t ruined it all by mentioning that which should never be mentioned.

Yes, she went there. She spoke about other parts of the UK were performing.

She said she was only doing so to give “context” but the damage was already done and the vein in Douglas Ross’s forehead was already beginning to throb.

“Our accident and emergency departments are performing better than those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland,” she said.

“If we look at the last complete month where we have figures, performance against the four-hour target in Scotland was 66.5%, compared to 57% in England, 55.2% in Wales and 45.7% in Northern Ireland.

“Context may be important to the First Minister and her members behind her, but for people waiting hours and days for A&E treatment, they are hollow words” replied Douglas Ross.

He then went on to talk about a patient in Ayrshire who had to wait 84 hours for treatment.

Nicola Sturgeon said it was an “unacceptable situation” and she would look into the details of the case.

She then went on to say that – in relation to the four-hour target – Scotland’s performance wasn’t good enough but it was still better than the rest of the UK.

Douglas Ross then did a remarkable impression of my eight-year-old by showing that he had only listened to a few seconds of her reply while zoning out the rest of it.

I say to my wee girl: “Once you’ve tidied away your toys and put your washing in the basket, then you can go and get a packet of crisps.”

But what she hears is: “get a packet of crisps.”

Confident that he’d got the truth of what she was saying without actually listening to her answer, Douglas Ross jumped to his feet and proclaimed: “Unbelievably, the First Minister just said there that 84 hours is not good enough, but it’s better than other parts of the United Kingdom!

Top tip, if you are describing something as “unbelievable” you might want to double check whether or not it actually happened.

The Prime Minister was keen to correct the record.

“It doesn’t do anyone any service at all to deliberately twist and misrepresent what I said in my previous answer,” she said.

Which is exactly what I’ll be telling my daughter the next time she smuggles a packet of Wotsits out of the kitchen before doing her chores.

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