I supported Nicola Sturgeon’s decision as health secretary in 2007 to stop the downgrading of Monklands accident and emergency services
, but today her health secretary has taken a decision to close the whole hospital on its current site. The people of Airdrie and Coatbridge need our hospital in the heart of our community, so will the First Minister order a rethink of that shocking decision, which has been taken just as we are going into recess?
I am not sure whether the member listened to what the health secretary said just before First Minister’s question time started. Elaine Smith supported my decision to save Monklands accident and emergency services from closure, although if it had been down to her party there would be no A and E in Monklands and—who knows?—there might have been no Monklands hospital by now.
Elaine Smith is wrong in what she is saying. There is an absolute commitment on the part of this Government to see a replacement for Monklands hospital built, which, incidentally, will include A and E services. An independent review panel has put forward recommendations around the site. The issue with the current site is that there is not enough room there to build a new hospital. That would require demolition of the existing hospital and would raise lots of issues around patient safety.
Elaine Smith cited the Queen Elizabeth university hospital and the Southern general hospital. The Southern general was able to continue operating while the Queen Elizabeth was being built, which would not be possible on the Monklands site. Therefore, the health secretary has said to NHS Lanarkshire that it must continue consultation on a range of options, including those that have come forward more recently.
Not only has this Government saved A and E services in Monklands hospital; this Government will make sure that there is a replacement for Monklands hospital, serving those communities well into the future. I am not sure that any of that would have happened, had Labour still been on these benches.
In light of the reports today that the couple who did their civic duty and reported the domestic disturbance in the Boris Johnson flat have now had to move out and require security assistance, and in light of the fact that the latest victim of Ruth Davidson’s endorsement, Jeremy Hunt, has admitted that the Tory Government, in contrast to the SNP Government in Scotland, has gone far too far in cutting police numbers, does the First Minister agree that the Tories in the Scottish Parliament are guilty of almost criminal hypocrisy?