Tory politicians John Lamont and Rachael Hamilton have been accused of issuing misleading information about NHS Borders services, according to South Scotland SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse.
A news release from NHS Borders has revealed how the recently elected Tory pair had been subjected to a “robust and frank” exchange at a specially convened meeting with senior officials of the health authority including chairman John Raine.
In its release, NHS Borders indicate Mr Lamont and Mrs Hamilton were forced to admit their unfair criticisms of Borders General Hospital had been based on out-of-date information, and they had also failed to acknowledge that £10.5m of fresh Scottish Government funding had been invested in the region on health facilities in the last two years, in response to identified maintenance needs.
Responding to these revelations in his capacity as a Hawick-based Regional Member of the Scottish Parliament, Mr Wheelhouse said:
“I’m glad to see these two recently elected politicians have been effectively carpeted for peddling half truths about our highly regarded NHS services.
“I acknowledge the resource pressures in our much loved NHS, and commend staff for their hard work and commitment, but had my Tory counterparts bothered to check their facts before firing off press releases aimed at getting them another weekly sound bite then they would not have found themselves floundering in hot water. John Lamont indulged in this kind of stuff throughout his 10 years as an MSP, and is well known for spin, but apparently did not learn his lesson. Now Mrs Hamilton is following in her predecessor’s footsteps. They may have apologised privately to NHS Borders managers, but they should also apologise to the public for uttering their blatantly misleading soundbites."
Mr Wheelhouse pointed out that during the recent by-election campaign Mrs Hamilton had produced a leaflet promising to “oppose the SNP every step of the way”.
“Her pitch was incredibly negative and unhelpful to her Borders constituents and will do nothing to secure investment from the Scottish Government - is Mrs Hamilton set to oppose the SNP Government if it extends the Borders Railway to Hawick and beyond, or builds a new station at Reston, Berwickshire? Will she be speaking out against a new multi-million pound school for Jedburgh? Will she vote down extra resources from the SNP Government for education or business rates relief too, as her predecessor did? I hope, instead, the negative rhetoric is consigned to the dustbin and Mrs Hamilton joins myself and my colleague Christine Grahame MSP in working constructively to secure investment."
Mr Wheelhouse claimed Mr Lamont’s time would be better spent lobbying Westminster to reverse their real terms cut to the Scottish Government budget and to ending Mr Lamont's support for capping increases in pay for nurses and other emergency and public sector workers at a below-inflation figure of just 1%.