Maintaining public confidence in Health Secretary Jeane Freeman is impossible, the Scottish Conservatives have claimed.
Ms Freeman has come under fire after Scottish Government figures on delayed discharges showed 921 patients were released from hospitals into care homes in March, the first month of the coronavirus crisis.
Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said that was an “astonishing revelation”, as he insisted Ms Freeman had previously said only 300 patients were discharged into care homes between March 1 and April 15.
In a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, he said: “In the light of these events, it is impossible to see how public confidence can be maintained in the Cabinet Secretary for Health.
“Jeane Freeman simply can’t be trusted on care home coronavirus.”
He questioned Ms Freeman’s “competence, honesty and transparency”, and said: “It is surely impossible to see how in respect of coronavirus in care homes, public confidence can be maintained in the Cabinet Secretary for Health.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Reporting Scotland programme, Ms Sturgeon said the Health Secretary would not be resigning.
Cautioning against using the virus as a party political issue, she added: “Jeane Freeman has my absolute confidence and I believe she should and does have the confidence of the public.
“She has been literally for three months working round the clock to try to make sure that this crisis is managed in the best way possible and I think she should have the support to continue to do that. She certainly has my support to do it.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “There is widespread public endorsement for the approach that we are taking in Scotland and ministers are focused on mitigating the effects of what is an unprecedented global pandemic and making decisions on the best information available.
“The Health Secretary has issued a letter to make clear that the delayed discharge numbers quoted on April 15 were an error and apologised for this.
“The Scottish Government has brought forward a number of actions to help keep care home residents and care workers safe, and will continue to focus our efforts and attention on that.”