Nicola Sturgeon accused of 'exploiting' Covid deaths to help deliver independent Scotland

Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, claimed the SNPs approach to dealing with the crisis was “shameful”. Since the pandemic began, 9,958 deaths have been registered in Scotland where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

In the last 24 hours, there have been 343 new coronavirus cases and no deaths, with the daily test positivity rate at 2.7 percent.

The Moray MP accused the SNP leader of failing on all aspects of managing the Coronavirus pandemic ranging from PPE to testing.

Mr Ross claimed Scotland would “likely pass 10,000 deaths from Covid” this week.

In one of his most fierce attacks on the SNP leader yet, he said: “In this election, we’re seeing the SNP exploiting those deaths and using the pandemic to drive votes for a divisive referendum.

“It’s even more galling when the truth is that Nicola Sturgeon didn’t handle this pandemic any better than others.

“The SNP have built a false reputation based on spin.

“Her failings cost lives, especially in care homes where vulnerable people were left unprotected.”

It comes as the Scottish Conservatives pledged to deliver record NHS funding as part of their election manifesto following the coronavirus pandemic.

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Mr Ross said the party would commit to an “NHS escalator” increasing the annual health budget by £2 billion by the end of the next Scottish Parliament term.

The pledge would mean health funding rising every year by either 2 percent above inflation or the UK Government Barnett consequential figure, whichever is higher.

Mr Ross added: “In the face of enormous risks and challenges, Scotland’s NHS has performed incredible feats throughout this pandemic and every single frontline worker deserves our utmost thanks.

“Today we are pledging to enshrine in law that our NHS gets the funding it needs to tackle the treatment backlogs that were already causing serious problems before the pandemic struck.

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“After 14 years in charge of Scotland’s NHS, the SNP can’t hide from their record, however much they try. As First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has never once met her promise on treatment times.

In response, an SNP spokesman said: “This is desperate stuff from the Tory leader.

“It is only with both votes SNP that people can secure the leadership needed to get us through and out of the pandemic.”

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