Alex Cole-Hamilton blasts Sturgeon over independence referendum
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The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton has blasted Nicola Sturgeon over the SNP leader’s push for a second referendum on Scottish Independence. Mr Cole-Hamilton argued the SNP leader’s focus on independence had distracted from “a litany of social problems.”
Mr Cole-Hamilton told the Scottish Parliament: “There are a litany of social problems that this country faces that ministers have sought to excuse and defer with reference to the pandemic.
“Yet miraculously, we’re told this weekend that by the threat of the virus has abated such that in 2023 we can hold another referendum on independence.
“Those problems and those people have not gone away, those patients waiting in pain for operations, children who’ve missed out on life qualifying education, frontline staff on their knees in want of a have a break.”
He asked Ms Sturgeon: “Does she understand the anger and the frustration that her Government as it turns its eyes away from them and back to the type of divisions of the past?”
The Scottish First Minister replied: “I think Alex Cole-Hamilton is the only one in this chamber today that’s turning his eyes away from these issues.
“We focus on these issues each and every single day and that will continue as we come out of this pandemic and hopefully into the recovery phase.
“But yes, we will also in the interest of democracy seek to take forward the mandate we won less than a year ago at the Scottish Parliament election tell people in Scotland to choose whether to complete the powers of this Parliament to better equip us to deal with these issues that Alex Cole-Hamilton has set out.”
It comes as new data showed those living in the poorest parts of Scotland were less likely to have seen a dentist in the last two years than those in the most affluent areas.
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In the most deprived areas, 55.3 percent of children and 45.1 prcent of adults had had an appointment in the last two years, compared to 73.1 percent of children and 56.4 percent of adults in the least deprived communities.
In the wake of the figures, Labour health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, warned that “NHS dental services are fighting for survival”.
Ms Baillie, also Scottish Labour’s Covid recovery spokeswoman, said: “The pandemic has clearly wreaked havoc with services, but they have been stretched for years.
“Even children are being forced to go without care, risking serious problems being missed.
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“Hundreds of thousands of appointments being lost will create a ticking time bomb in our dental care.
“Free dental care doesn’t count for much if no-one can get an appointment and more and more dentists are warning about an impending crisis in dentistry with an antiquated system of funding, not fit for the 21st century.”
She added: “The SNP must act urgently to support and rebuild dental services and protect these essential NHS services.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said the Public Health Scotland report “covers the period of the pandemic when dental activity was restricted to prevent the spread of the virus”.
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