CLAIMS that Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers have gone into hiding over crises facing the NHS in Scotland and the ambulance service are “false”, the Scottish Government has said.

Their response came after the Scottish Tories said the SNP had put up “a wall of silence since Thursday” on the issues, and BBC Scotland interviewed Tory MSP and GP Sandesh Gulhane because presenter Martin Geissler said Humza Yousaf and Jason Leitch had refused to appear on the Sunday Show.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These claims are false. Government and ministers have been working around the clock and will continue doing so to keep the public informed and to support the NHS through the exceptional and unique pressures it is facing due to the global pandemic.

“Ministers and clinicians have spoken to the media almost every day last week – the Health Secretary was interviewed on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and today [Sunday], the First Minister addressed Parliament on Thursday and the national clinical director was interviewed on Thursday and Friday.”

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Before he introduced Gulhane, Geissler mentioned the cases of Gerald Brown, whose family said had waited 40 hours for an ambulance, but died before it arrived; and 86-year-old Lilian Briggs, who waited eight hours for help after falling at home and breaking her hip.

“We had hoped to talk to the person ultimately responsible for all of this, Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, but he declined, so then we asked for Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch, but that was also a no,” said Geissler.

He suspected “inevitably” that the interview with Gulhane “would descend ultimately” into politics, but asked him “more as a doctor than as a politician” to give his assessment of what was at the root of the crisis.

Gulhane responded: “In your opening statement, you took the words out of my mouth – if this is not a crisis what is, but we also need to look at GPs. The demand for GPs has never been higher … everything that you’ve said, every single thing is a symptom of a problem, and it’s an underlying problem that Covid has shone a light on.”

He said these included low morale, lengthy waiting lists and a shortage of anaesthetists, but things had “really gone downhill” with the pandemic.

“There’s no recruitment plan for anaesthetists, and I think they are key because that’s the bottleneck that we have here,” said Gulhane.

“We need to have the Scottish Government allow consultants to opt in and out of their pension because currently what’s happening is, lots of consultants have to pull back on the amount of work they’re doing because otherwise they get really hit heavily in pension tax … some doctors are actually paying to go to work.

“The Welsh Assembly have done it, so that would basically give us a whole load of consultant time.”

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After the programme aired, Stephen Kerr, the Scottish Tories’ chief whip, accused the Scottish Government of building a wall of silence: “As the mistakes mount up each day, this scandalous SNP government have put up another wall of silence.

“At a time when the NHS and Scottish Ambulance Service are at breaking point, Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers have gone into hiding in the hope things will suddenly get better.

“Scotland is in a crisis due to this inadequate SNP Government who only want to speak about one thing – independence.

“People are needlessly dying because of the SNP’s failings yet they can’t even bring themselves to address the public on what is being done to alleviate the situation.”

The Scottish Government spokesperson added: “The Health Secretary will set out the latest position to Parliament on Tuesday.”