Douglas Ross has branded Humza Yousaf’s stewardship of the NHS “shocking” and accused the health secretary of “lurching it further into crisis” after he announced his campaign to succeed Nicola Sturgeon at Holyrood.
The Scottish Conservative leader told how one patient had waited more than two days for treatment in accident and emergency at one hospital before receiving care in a scathing attack at First Minister’s Questions.
Ross described Yousaf – one of three candidates to replace Sturgeon as FM – as “useless,” adding he had “made the crisis in Scotland’s health service much worse”.
However, Sturgeon, appearing at the Holyrood helm for one of the final times as leader of the SNP, accused Ross of “running scared” of Yousaf, relaying that Scotland’s A&E wait times continued to outperform those elsewhere in the UK.
Yousaf will face off against Ash Regan and Kate Forbes to replace the outgoing FM after she revealed her intention to stand down at a surprise press conference last week.
Critics have attacked his record on health since being given the brief in 2021, though he previously said it “wouldn’t have mattered” who was in charge of Scotland’s NHS emerging from the pandemic.
Tory leader Ross relayed one story of a patient in the Borders who had waited 49 hours for treatment, while another in Ayrshire spent 60 hours without receiving care.
He accused Yousaf of “failing upwards,” arguing he should be out of government rather than running for the First Minister’s office.
“Doesn’t this confirm that Humza Yousaf isn’t even up to the job he has got at the moment,” he said in the chamber.
“He is the worst health secretary since devolution, but it looks like he is going to fail upwards.
“In any other line of work Humza Yousaf would have been sacked, not promoted.
“Forget being SNP leader, why is he even still in government?”
Sturgeon stressed it is for members of her party to “elect a new leader of the SNP and effectively a new first minister for Scotland”.
But she stated: “Douglas Ross is sounding pretty scared of Humza Yousaf.”
She added: “In relation to individual cases it is always unacceptable if someone waits too long for treatment in the National Health Service.
“We are supporting our NHS with record funding, record staffing and the wider support it needs to address these challenges.”