Commenting as figures reveal that hospital mortality has reduced by 12.4% since the Scottish Patient Safety Programme was introduced in 2008, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP said:
"Our hard-working NHS deserves praise for the drop in hospital mortality. The SNP government got off to a good start with this programme, which was sensible and as results show, has saved lives. But recent decisions have unpicked their good work.
"Far from aiding this success the SNP government has thrown up hurdles which could hamper efforts to improve patient safety. Clinical negligence pay-outs are at their highest in five years, patients have been left to languish on trolleys due to a lack of beds and nurse numbers have dropped in their thousands.
"Alex Neil shouldn't try to hide from the dismal figures published only last week which showed only four of Scotland's fourteen health boards met the A&E waiting time target in December. Our hospitals are working harder with less and with a Health Secretary who only wants to hear about the good news. If Alex Neil wants the NHS to keep up this excellent work he must open his eyes to the real problems he is laying at the doors of our hospitals."