Hospitals continued sending elderly people who had tested positive for Covid-19 to care homes after ministers demanded every arrival needed two negative tests, we can reveal.
Five health boards moved patients who had tested positive after April 21, when Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman told Parliament she was introducing the new policy.
Formal government guidance was issued to NHS boards on April 26 but one health board said three patients who tested positive were seen by doctors in A&E before being sent back to their cares homes on the same day, while another health board sent four patients into care homes before test results came back.
Last month, The Post revealed dozens of patients who tested positive were moved from hospital into care before April 21 as part of a drive to free beds amid fears hospitals would be overwhelmed by people with Covid-19. The deaths of nearly 2,000 elderly care home residents have been linked to the virus.
Within days, the First Minister ordered Public Health Scotland to investigate and its report is due on Wednesday. We can now reveal at least 16 patients who tested positive were moved to care homes 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.”
Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice spokesman Alan Wightman, whose mother Helen died in a Fife care home in May after contracting the virus, said: “I find this revelation to be both astonishing and distressing.”
Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “To discharge patients who had not only failed to meet the requirement put in place to make doubly sure they and others in their care home were not put at risk, but had actually tested positive for the virus, is beyond belief.”
The Post asked all health boards how many patients were moved to care homes after a positive test between April 21 and June 30.
NHS Ayrshire and Arran said four patients who had tested positive were discharged to care homes after April 26, and four who were waiting for test results were also transferred. Medical director Dr Crawford McGuffie said care homes were asked to isolate the patients for two weeks.
NHS Grampian said of 240 patients who were tested, six had no negative test prior to discharge to a care home but the health board did not know if they were infectious at the time.
NHS Lanarkshire said three care home residents who tested positive were sent back to the care home on the same day they were treated in A&E. When asked if the patients were infectious the health board did not respond.
NHS Borders said two patients were moved to care homes after a positive test – after Ms Freeman’s statement to Parliament on April 21, but before government guidance was issued five days later. But it could not say if two patients moved to care homes after April 21 were infectious.
NHS Tayside indicated at least one patient was moved to a care home after testing positive. The health board said “senior clinical staff…are assured by the processes in place for discharge arrangements with care homes”.
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