THURSDAY’S newspapers were filled with heart-breaking stories of the human consequences of the ambulance waiting times crisis. The service has been under acute pressure in recent weeks due, in part, to the delays in turnaround times in A&E.

At FMQs, the mood was sombre. Nobody was in any doubt about what issue the two main opposition leaders would raise with the First Minister: the only question was how she would respond.

Douglas Ross began by raising one such case.

“This morning, we all read in shock and horror about 65-year-old Gerard Brown, who died after a 40-hour wait for an ambulance. When the paramedics reached him, all they could do was pronounce him as dead. His body was still warm.”

Mr Brown’s son was told by his GP that if the ambulance had got to him sooner, his dad would still be alive.

“What does the First Minister have to say to Gerard Brown’s GP, who said that this is ‘third-world medicine’? And what does the First Minister have to say to Dylan Brown, who is grieving the death of his father, who should still be alive?”

The National:

Nicola Sturgeon offered her condolences to Mr Brown’s family and said, while individual cases would need to be investigated fully, the scenario described by newspapers about Mr Brown’s death is “unacceptable”.

“Our ambulance service is working under acute pressure right now, largely due to Covid” she said.

“..I recognise that some people are not getting the standard of service that they should be getting…that is not acceptable and I apologise unreservedly to anyone that has suffered or who is suffering unacceptably long waits.”

READ MORE: Army to be called in to help Scotland's Ambulance Service, Nicola Sturgeon says

She went on to lay out a “range of actions” that the Scottish Government has already undertaken to try and fix the crisis, including additional funding, and said that more would be done in the coming days.

“I can confirm now that this includes consideration of seeking targeted military assistance to help deal with short-term pressure points.”

She also announced that the Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, would be giving an update to parliament next week.

As both Douglas Ross and Anas Sarwar went through the harrowing, human, details of the ambulance waiting times crisis, the First Minister looked uncharacteristically unsettled. She pointed out that these are challenges that are mirrored elsewhere in the UK, but acknowledged that when it comes to Scotland’s health service, the buck stops with her.

The National:

Far be it for me to praise Douglas Ross two weeks in a row but, save for his repeated and unnecessary demand that the First Minister use the word “crisis” to describe the, well … crisis – his line of questioning was focused and useful.

Those weeks where the issue at hand is so important that it transcends party politics and allegiances always show Holyrood at its best. They aren’t the best for sketch writers – devoid as they are of the silliness and petty bickering that makes politics so entertaining – but they do help make for better governance.

That’s why it was a shame to see Murdo Fraser reduce the harrowing details of what had been discussed during FMQs in an inane tweet about it being the “BRITISH” army that would be providing targeted assistance to the ambulance service.

We’re talking about real people who have suffered real – avoidable – tragedies and our politicians should be mindful of that. And if they find that too difficult, they should probably stay off Twitter.