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Kickoff: Scottish cabinet reshuffle commenced after health minister resigns

Following the £11,000 data bill row, Michael Matheson has stepped down from his position as Scottish health secretary forcing Humza Yousaf to reshuffle his cabinet.

A parliamentary investigation is currently underway into how Michael Matheson racked up a £10,935 data bill on his work iPad. Holyrood authorities began the investigation after he admitted his sons used the technology as a hotspot to watch football matches on their Christmas holiday to Morocco.

a blue and white flag

Since the investigation became public, Matheson previously refuted repeated demands to stand down from his position, but just three hours before he was due to confirm the minimum unit price for alcohol in the country, he announced his resignation. The decision resulted in various intense cross-party attacks at Holyrood.

Within his resignation letter, Matheson said: ‘It has been a privilege to serve in government for almost 13 years,’ and thanked his ‘dedicated civil servants without whom it would be impossible to [do his] job’. However, despite detailing his gratitude to the Scottish government, Matheson offered no apology or explanation for the timing of his decision.

However, a spokesperson for Yousaf said there was ‘clearly a very strong possibility’ Matheson will face significant sanctions as a result of the investigation.

As a result of Matheson leaving, Neil Gray, who led Humza Yousaf’s SNP leadership campaign in 2023, has been appointed as the new health secretary.

Mr Gray has previously been an MP from 2015-2021, which is when he quit at Westminster to seek election to the Scottish Parliament.

Following his departure from England, he was appointed minister for culture, Europe and international development in January 2022 – a position that gave him responsibility for Ukrainian refugees.

Although, despite being fairly new to Holyrood, Neil Gray is now in charge of a multi-million pound health budget and is facing ‘a tough job ahead of him’ as he needs to work to drive down A&E wait times and NHS waiting lists.

The Scottish government have set a target that 95% of people attending A&E should be seen, admitted, discharged, or transferred within four hours. However, due to the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cost-of-living crisis, this goal is yet to be achieved.

Image: chris robert

More on this topic:

Alcohol deaths in Scotland have hit the highest level in 14 years

Over £130m of Child Disability Payments distributed in Scotland

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