Dangerous decision by Sturgeon needs to be challenged

Dangerous decision by Sturgeon needs to be challenged

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Friday 27, March, 2020

THE ESTABLISHMENT by Nicola Sturgeon of a separate Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) from that of the Prime Minister is a desperately worrying decision. The obvious thing to say first is that Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, has not inspired confidence. This is not her fault. It used to be that all the CMOs followed the UK Government, and when health was under the Scottish Office this was a given.

We are seeing devolution tested to destruction and the First Minister is looking to add more layers and create gradients with Westminster. This is being divisive for its own sake; it’s simply not needed.

There is a more obvious way around this. The Secretaries of State for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland need to take over the specific role of handling the pandemic.

Devolution was never meant to be able to handle anything of such cross-border magnitude and it has been proven that it can't. Rather than appoint a new group Sturgeon should do the honourable delegate authority to the Scottish Secretary. Hand the administration over to Westminster. Manage NHS Scotland by all means but during all of this and take instruction from Alister Jack.

There is also a strong argument for Calderwood to accept this epidemiological crisis exceeds her own professional limits of competence, as laid out by the General Medical Council, and step down temporarily and let Prof Andrew Morris become an acting CMO. The role requires particular skill sets at this time.

This does not in any way undermine Calderwood when working under normal conditions. But you don’t call in a gynaecologist to do a heart transplant, why would you call her in to manage infectious diseases?

The UK’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty is legit. He has just the skill set for a pandemic. That is serendipity not design. The devolved assemblies should really appoint acting CMOs with the same skills set as Whitty so they all understand what they are doing

Sturgeon’s new  arrangement wouldn’t stack up in a hospital, why should it in a country when there are tens of thousands of lives at stake?

Jonathan Stanley is GMC registered doctor, studied health economics and management at Scharr and is a member of the royal college of surgeons who worked in a wide range of surgical specialities across the UK before working in the European Parliament for two MEPs. Dr Stanley has now returned to the NHS to help in the pandemic.

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