Nicola Sturgeon gave her backing “to the job the health secretary is doing” in response to a call for Shona Robison to be sacked over the Tayside crisis.
The First Minister also insisted the worsening finances at the health board would not have an impact on services in Dundee, Angus and Perth and Kinross.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard became the most senior MSP to call for Ms Robison’s head.
“Here we have a health board raising charity funds to pay the bills and that is after fiddling the accounts,” he told Ms Sturgeon.
“And what makes this even worse is that this all happening in Tayside under the nose of the health secretary, who is a member of parliament for Dundee.
“First Minister, it’s too late for Shona Robison to be an honest broker in the NHS Tayside affair.
“Will the First Minister reflect on this and will she face up to the fact that the time has come for health secretary to go?”
In a response the First Minister said: “I will continue to give my support as First Minister to the job the health secretary is doing to strengthen the leadership of the NHS Tayside board with the new chief executive and chair arrangements that have been put in place.”
Asked afterwards if the First Minister had confidence in her health secretary, Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman said: “Yes.”
Earlier, Mr Leonard asked the FM if she agreed with him that the spiralling financial problems would lead to longer waiting times and more cancelled operations at NHS Tayside.
The SNP leader replied: “No, I don’t.
“The purpose of the Scottish Government providing brokerage is in order to ensure that patient services are not affected as the board undertakes its transformation plans.”