The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf, has been challenged in Parliament over his failure to meet with members of the Steering Group focusing on the ongoing closure of Edington Cottage Hospital.

Speaking during Health and Social Care portfolio questions at Holyrood, Martin Whitfield MSP first asked the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the impact of the closure, which happened back in September and is due to be reviewed on 10th December.

Following a disappointing answer from Mr Yousaf’s junior ministerial colleague Kevin Stewart, which simply restated the current position, Mr Whitfield challenged Mr Yousaf to commit to meeting with the Steering Group in advance of the review date.

Despite being in his seat in the chamber Mr Yousaf failed to answer, with Mr Stewart merely stating that the Cabinet Secretary has already met with East Lothian’s constituency MSP regarding the matter and that “the Government will continue to speak to those who are in the know, including local members, on those matters.”

Speaking afterwards, Martin Whitfield MSP said:

“It is now a number of weeks since the Edington Steering Group was told that the Cabinet Secretary was willing to meet with them to discuss the circumstances that led to the hospital’s temporary closure and what the Scottish Government is doing to support it to reopen.

“Having received no response to their follow-up request for a meeting, I was pleased to raise the matter in the chamber in the hope of pinning Mr Yousaf down. However, the fact that he could not even be bothered to respond, and that his ministerial colleague simply evaded the question, does not bode well.

“We know that Scottish Government Ministers desperately want to avoid scrutiny of the way they’re handing the current NHS crisis. However, expectations were raised that the Cabinet Secretary would meet with the Steering Group and I believe it’s entirely reasonable for them to want that meeting to happen.

“I will continue to push for the Cabinet Secretary to take responsibility for the pressures that are affecting our NHS and to explain what he and his government are doing to help support NHS Lothian with re-opening the Edington.”