DOUGLAS Ross demanded Michael Matheson should be sacked as Health Secretary over the £11,000 iPad bill row during a clash at First Minister’s Questions.

The Scottish Tory leader claimed Matheson “needs to go for the good of our NHS”, after he admitted earlier this month his two teenage sons had contributed to the data charges by using his parliamentary device as a hotspot to watch football matches during a family holiday to Morocco.

Ross accused the Health Secretary of “dishonesty” in a clash with Deputy First Minister Shona Robison, who was standing in for Humza Yousaf while he attends COP28 in Dubai.

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It comes after an Ipsos poll published on Wednesday found 61% of Scots believe Matheson should resign over the row.

Robison defended Matheson’s position and insisted the investigation by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) should be allowed to go ahead.

Matheson initially claimed the bill on expenses, but later said he would repay the money in full to Holyrood.

Referring to the Ipsos Mori poll findings as he raised the issue at FMQs on Thursday, Ross said the “vast majority of Scots believe he should stand down”.

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He claimed the survey showed people can see Matheson is “not focused on the day job”, and added: “In the middle of an NHS crisis, the public need to trust the Health Secretary. They don’t.

“Nurses and doctors when they meet him, they need to know that he is honest. He’s not.

“The Health Secretary has lost the confidence of the country and he needs to go for the good of our NHS.”

With Robison having suggested at the weekend that the size of Scotland’s public sector workforce needs to be reduced, Ross suggested: “Shouldn’t that start with sacking Michael Matheson?”

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In an emotional statement to MSPs earlier this month, Matheson said he had not previously mentioned his sons’ involvement in racking up the charges because he wanted to protect them.

The SNP MSP said that after discovering how the bill was created, he paid the money back to the Scottish Parliament.

In response to Ross’s attack on the Health Secretary, Robison stressed the “appropriate thing now is to allow the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body to look into this matter”.

But she added that “importantly”, Matheson had accepted he “should have handled the situation better”.

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She said he has “accepted responsibility and has rightly apologised in full”.

Ross replied: “Of course Michael Matheson could have handled the situation better. He could have told the truth.

“He could have been honest, and we can’t park this issue to the Scottish Parliament investigation, because they are looking at the claim made for taxpayers to pay £11,000 of a bill. They’re not looking at the statements made which now seem to have been dishonest from Michael Matheson.”

While the Health Secretary has denied suggestions he had been watching football matches on the device, Ross added: “He’s the MSP who once bragged about watching six football matches in a single weekend.

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“But now he wants us to believe that when he was on holiday, he never watched the games, he never knew the football was on, and he never spoke to anyone about it.

“And when a giant bill came in he was completely clueless about it.”

Robison said Matheson had “reimbursed the Parliament in full for the costs incurred”.

She insisted he is “getting on with the job of being Health Secretary, ahead of what is expected to be a challenging winter for the health service”.

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She also attacked the Tories, saying the recent Autumn Statement from the UK Government had “given no money whatsoever for public services for this Government, for this country, for next year”.

While the Scottish Government will receive an additional £545 million over the next two years, Robison said there will be less than £11m for NHS spending next year.

She added: “If Douglas Ross cared anything about the NHS he would be objecting to the fact that next year only £10.8m has been given to the NHS from the UK Tory Government, less than £11m.

“I think actions speak louder than words, I don’t think Douglas Ross and the Tories care about the NHS if they are prepared to support the Tory government on that matter.”