NICOLA Sturgeon missed FMQs on Thursday because she was having her first in-person meeting with new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Given how quickly Liz Truss was booted out by her party it makes sense for all involved to have gotten that commitment in the diary nice and early.

Oh to be a fly on that wall as the two leaders meet in Blackpool ahead of a meeting of the British-Irish Council.

What do you serve a gazillionaire when they nip round for a chat and a catch-up?

READ MORE: John Swinney reacts to call for Humza Yousaf to be sacked at FMQs

Ferrero Rocher might be a bit on the nose. Maybe champagne and truffles. Or, if you want to be really fancy, a 500g tub of Lurpak.

Over in Holyrood, John Swinney led FMQs on the First Minister’s behalf.

Both Douglas Ross and Anas Sarwar went on the news that, for the first time ever, nurses have voted to stage strikes across the UK.

It turns out clapping and proclamations of gratitude for our hard-working NHS staff doesn’t pay the bills. Who knew?

Douglas Ross said that the strikes weren’t just about pay, they were about the overall “crisis” facing Scotland’s NHS and that it was now “beyond doubt” that the Health Secretary Humza Yousaf “had failed”.

In response, John Swinney said there were “very significant” challenges in the NHS right across the UK.

He went on to say that the Scottish Government had offered health service staff “the best payday of any government in the United Kingdom.”

“Resources are absolutely fundamental, that’s why it is laughable for Douglas Ross to come here and raise these issues with me when only seven weeks ago he wanted me to cut tax in the folly taken forward by Liz Truss which would have damaged public investment in our health service.”

Ross hit back: “Whoever the SNP try to blame, it is obvious that the man responsible is right there, sitting next to the Deputy First Minister. Humza Yousaf has failed. And all he can do is spin that the SNP is in recovery when really it’s at breaking point.”

“Scotland’s NHS deserves better than Humza Yousaf. When will this Health Secretary be sacked?”

You can imagine how John Swinney felt about that comment. He sprung up so fast from his chair his glasses nearly fell off.

"Given the absolutely chaotic turmoil of ministerial resignations and dismissals in the UK Government, what a LAUGHABLE proposition to put to me this morning. I’ve been active in politics for many years - a member of Parliament for a quarter of a century - and you know when somebody has run out of road when they start playing the man and not the issue."

Anas Sarwar was up next.

He said that "the Scottish Government’s failure to workforce plan means 6000 nursing and midwifery vacancies".

He asked John Swinney, "Why have you let it come to this?"

In response, John Swinney reminded Anas Sarwar of the disastrous interview that Keir Starmer did with BBC Scotland at the weekend where he said "I think we are recruiting too many people from overseas into, for example, the health service."

Mr Swinney said he listened to those comments with "incredulity" because "what is hampering us in the NHS is the Brexit that was inflicted on us by the Conservatives, ending free movement of people, which has lost us members of staff from our NHS."

Anas Sarwar must be hoping that Keir Starmer stays away from Scottish journalists ahead of Nicola Sturgeon returning to FMQs next week …