Midlothian South MSP calls on Tory to withdraw NHS remarks

Michelle Ballantyne and Christine Grahame.
Michelle Ballantyne and Christine Grahame.

Local MSP Christine Grahame has called on Tory front-bencher Michelle Ballantyne to withdraw remarks calling for the Scottish Government to have “nothing to do” with the NHS.

The Tory MSP, speaking at Holyrood, said “as somebody who has spent a lot of time in the NHS I would be quite happy if Government had nothing to do with the running of the NHS quite frankly”.

As the Tory welfare spokesperson she has previously been condemned for saying that “people on benefits cannot have as many children as they like” and claiming that “there’s no such thing as a bedroom tax”.

Commenting, SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Christine Grahame said: “This was a stunning intervention and I hope Michelle Ballantyne has the good sense to withdraw her remarks.

“The NHS is a treasured, publicly-owned institution, unlike England which has NHS Trusts, so it is right that Scottish ministers are ultimately accountable for it.

“Indeed, Tory MSPs come each and every week to demand the Scottish Government make changes in the NHS.

“It is entirely unacceptable for a Tory frontbencher to say that the government should have ‘nothing to do’ with our health service – and you do wonder what the Tories would prefer to have in its place.”

Responding to these comments, Scotland South List MSP Michelle Ballantyne (Con) said: “The level of Ms Grahame’s chicanery in this matter beggars belief.

“As the chair of the debate, Christine Grahame fully understood the point I was trying to make. Having worked in the NHS for nearly 30 years, I have often been disappointed when politicians use our health service as a political device.

“My point is that I have been privileged to work alongside many amazing doctors, nurses and management in the NHS, and regret the political burden that is often thrust upon them by politicians as the running of our health service overlaps with the politics of the day.

“There’s a great irony in the fact that Ms Grahame is, once again, using this as a political football, and I think it speaks volumes to the argument that politicians are happy to exploit the NHS for their own political gain.”