First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she had no idea hospital patients who had tested positive for coronavirus were moved to care homes until she read about it in The Sunday Post.
In a letter to the Scottish Conservative health spokesman Donald Cameron, Ms Sturgeon said her cabinet and officials were also unaware of the practice.
In August, we revealed dozens of elderly patients who had tested positive were moved from hospitals into care homes in the weeks before and after lockdown as hospitals were urged to clear beds to prepare for a flood of Covid patients.
An urgent – but delayed – investigation by Public Health Scotland ordered after our story is expected to be published on Wednesday.
Ms Sturgeon’s letter said that, before our story, “neither Scottish ministers nor government officials had information on the results of Covid-19 tests prior to discharge, or where these patients were discharged.
“The cabinet secretary (for health) commissioned Public Health Scotland (PHS)to enable us to more fully and consistently understand how many people were assessed as being discharged with a recent positive test result, and the rationales that were in place for such a discharge. This information will be included in the Public Health Scotland report, which I can confirm will be published on October 28.”
On April 21, Health Minister Jeane Freeman announced a policy change that introduced a requirement for negative tests before patients could be moved to care homes.
Last month we told how the practice continued after April 21 when Ms Freeman told MSPs: “Covid-19 patients discharged from hospital to a care home should have given two negative tests before discharge.”
The deaths of more than 2,000 elderly care home residents have been linked to the virus.
Mr Cameron said: “We should never have had to learn Covid positive patients were being sent to care homes through newspaper investigations.
“Despite constant denials, questions still remain exactly what the first minister knew about Covid-positive patients being transferred into our care homes, and when she became aware of this practice. It seems astonishing this wouldn’t have been discussed in depth at the Scottish Government cabinet.”
Alan Wightman from Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, whose mother died of coronavirus in a Fife care home, said: “There seems little doubt that our elderly populace were not afforded the care they should have been in the early part of the pandemic. The focus was all on protecting the NHS from being overloaded. If that was the goal, then the strategy was a success.
“But it was bought at tremendous cost to our most elderly and vulnerable in care homes.”
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