Jamie Hepburn (Central Scotland) (SNP): Will the cabinet secretary inform members how health board consultations on proposed changes to A and E and other services that boards provide will be improved in the future, and how the improvements will avoid any sham consultations, such as the one in Lanarkshire that led to the initial proposal to close Monklands A and E?
Nicola Sturgeon: My answer will be simlar to the one that I have just given to Jim Hume. I cannot overstate the point that the independent scrutiny process greatly enhances decision making. I repeat my thanks to Andrew Walker and his team, who have done an absolutely outstanding job in the cases of Ayr and Monklands.
Independent scrutiny builds confidence in the decision-making process. It is not for an independent scrutiny panel to take the decisions; rather, its job is to help to build confidence in the evidence base that underpins them. That, coupled with the other reforms that we detail in "Better Health, Better Care: Action Plan" to strengthen existing public consultation mechanisms, plus the possibility of elected health board members, will radically reform and improve the process of consultation and public engagement. The NHS will be stronger and better for it.