One of the architects of the modernisation of Scotland's health service has attacked the Scottish National Party's opposition to reconfiguring services.

David Kerr, Rhodes professor of clinical pharmacology and cancer therapeutics at Oxford University, was responding to the announcement from Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon that she would usually oppose centralisation. She has already halted the closure of two accident and emergency units.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in London today, Prof Kerr said.halting the.closures was 'emotional, irrational and not based on any logic at all'.

'Does that mean every health campaigner has a direct line into the health secretary to unpick things? I think she is building up sustainable trouble for herself,' he said.

Commenting on his English colleagues who were facing vociferous opposition to local hospital closures, Prof Kerr said: 'Once you have got into 'us and them' you are snookered. It is dead hard to recover it without loss of face.'

Meanwhile Dr Peter Barrett, chair of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, stressed the importance of taking a long term view when judging a planned restructuring: 'Do you pour in more money even though it is in the wrong place, or do you take a strategic view? We need to be less attached to buildings; they are almost irrelevant. It is teams that are important.'

Prof Kerr also highlighted the speed at which demands on the Scottish health service were changing. For example, by 2030 Scotland expects to have more citizens aged 80 or over than primary school children.