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SNP candidate apologises to nurse who spoke about ‘demoralising’ NHS

Nurse Claire Austin told SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to ‘come in to A&E and see what we’re up against’ during the Scottish leaders debate.
Joanna Cherry

A nurse who told SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon that working in the NHS was demoralising has received an apology from one of the partys parliamentary candidates.

During the televised Scottish leaders debate, nurse Claire Austin said that she had been forced to use a food bank and spoke about the cap on nurse pay.

Twitter apology

Ms Austin told the SNP leader: You have no idea how demoralising it is to work in the NHS. Dont come in on your announced visits, come in the middle of any day, into the middle of any A&E department, come on in and see what were up against.

Shortly afterwards SNP justice and home affairs spokesperson Joanna Cherry

A nurse who told SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon that working in the NHS was demoralising has received an apology from one of the party’s parliamentary candidates.


SNP candidate Joanna Cherry, pictured, suggested nurse Claire Austin was the wife of a Tory councillor, following her comments at the Scottish leaders’ debate. Picture: Getty Images 

During the televised Scottish leaders’ debate, nurse Claire Austin said that she had been forced to use a food bank and spoke about the cap on nurse pay.

Twitter apology

Ms Austin told the SNP leader: ‘You have no idea how demoralising it is to work in the NHS. Don’t come in on your announced visits, come in the middle of any day, into the middle of any A&E department, come on in and see what we’re up against.’

Shortly afterwards SNP justice and home affairs spokesperson Joanna Cherry told BBC Scotland the nurse was believed to be the wife of a Tory councillor.

Ms Cherry was one of the party’s representatives in the spin room for the BBC debate on Sunday.

She told the BBC: ‘I'm advised that the nurse who spoke is in fact the wife of a Conservative councillor – so she’s probably best placed to know she’d be considerably worse off south of the border.’

Ms Cherry later tweeted an apology to the nurse, after it emerged that Ms Austin is unmarried, writing: ‘Sorry I was wrong about Twitter rumours. Entirely right that your voice is heard.’

In a Facebook post later, Ms Austin said: ‘When I spoke tonight I spoke on behalf of all NHS staff, not just myself but all NHS staff, not just nurses but clinical support workers, the backbone of many wards, healthcare assistants, again invaluable, but the porters.’

‘Honest mistake’

Ms Sturgeon said in an interview with BBC Scotland on Monday: ‘Ms Cherry made a mistake, an honest mistake and she apologised for that.’

She added: ‘The nurse on the debate last night was absolutely entitled to raise the issue that she did. She raised an issue that is one of the biggest issues in this campaign – the level and value of real wages not just in the public sector but in the private sector.’

Opposition parties have accused the SNP of attempting to smear Ms Austin following the debate.


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