§ 8. Mr. Ancram
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received about industrial action in hospitals in Scotland.
§ Mr. John MacKay
We have received a range of comments from health boards, outside organisations and members of the public on the continuing difficulties for hospital patients that have been caused by the current dispute.
§ Mr. Ancram
Does my hon. Friend agree that the whole basis of the Health Service is that patient care comes first? Does he agree that the continuing support and sympathy for workers in the Health Service has been eroded by the callous way in which they have disregarded the interests of patients in Scotland? Are the Government prepared to take every step, even if it includes crossing picket lines, to ensure that patient care comes first?
§ Mr. MacKay
I agree that the spectacle of patients being put at risk and in great discomfort cannot have done the Health Service unions' case any good. The sooner they think about that, the better. We are fortunate that most nurses and many other staff have continued to work throughout the dispute. Many of them have worked far beyond their normal duties. We should be grateful to them for their efforts to keep up services for the care of patients. I strongly deprecate the efforts of outside bodies to politicise the decision at the expense of patients and their care.