IT IS absurd for SNP supporters to claim, as some have, that criticism of health management under the current government is an attempt to “weaponise” hospitals. When £150 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent on a project originally due to open in 2012, and which will not now be ready until at least autumn of next year, any administration, of whatever political stamp, would and should expect calls for urgent investigation and review.

When the same contractors also face scrutiny of failings at two other major hospitals, Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Royal Hospital for Children, following deaths caused by infections and ward closures, it’s hardly surprising that there should also be opposition demands that “heads should roll”.

It is true that NHS England is not immune from similar problems – an unfinished hospital in Liverpool is in the spotlight for similar reasons – or that public projects across the UK are far too often subject to long delays and enormous overspends on their original budgets (HS2 and Crossrail being prime examples). But the ultimate responsibility for such failings, at Holyrood and Westminster, lies with the elected officials responsible for the stewardship of public funds.

That involves not only ensuring that those who win contracts, especially those conducted under PFI schemes, honour them in time, deliver what was promised, provide value to the taxpayer, and accept liability for their own failings, but accepting that failures of oversight or instruction by public officials are a legitimate matter for accountability.

In the case of Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children, it’s clear that NHS Lothian and Jeane Freeman, the health secretary, have made serious errors, resulting in costs to the Scottish public which are not merely financial.

It is not unreasonable to expect a public inquiry into these failings, and it is frankly inadequate for the First Minister to protest that she and Ms Freeman are “angry” and to promise “closer scrutiny and oversight”. The public may be able to accept and understand the reality that the hospital now cannot safely open until these issues have been corrected, but it does not follow that they should be prepared to accept or excuse clear instances of incompetent instructions by public officials, reckless disregard for catching errors at an early stage, and failure to exercise proper ministerial oversight.

Health is a devolved issue, and those responsible are in NHS Scotland and at Holyrood. There is no point in boasting of commitment to higher health spending if the money has been squandered, and the service is failing to deliver.

Judges are neither traitors or heroes

After the Court of Session’s ruling, the score stands at 2-1 in favour of the Prime Minister, since English and Northern Irish judges ruled that his prorogation of Parliament was lawful – or at any rate, not “justiciable” by courts there. The Scottish ruling was a surprise, but since the legal systems are different, it is hardly inconsistent that judgments differ. The Scottish judges (like their counterparts elsewhere) are neither traitors to democracy, nor heroic defenders of it; they merely applied the law as they understood it.

The final verdict now lies with the UK Supreme Court, which rules next week. That court (created, ironically, to comply with EU rules) sits above the Scots, English and Northern Irish legal systems, considering all aspects of cases where rulings have already been made by lower courts.

Unfortunately, whatever it decides, there is bound to be fury from one side or the other. But we should apply the same presumption to it as to the previous verdicts, rather than impugning the impartiality of the judges.