Nicola Sturgeon has said she “can’t find the words” to sum up her sorrow for those who have died in Scottish care homes and their families.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard asked her about the issue at First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, giving the example of a woman who was diagnosed with Covid-19 after being moved to a Midlothian care home.
Margaret Laidlaw was not taken from her care home to a hospital because of Scottish Government policy, he said, and she died a few weeks later aged 65.
Mr Leonard said: “Her family are angry. They want to know why – why the care home was so unprepared and they want to know why hospital care was not available.
“Sadly Margaret’s story has been all too common.”
Responding, the First Minister said: “I can’t find the words to adequately sum up the sense of sorrow I feel and the depth of my condolences to them.”
She said she could not comment on individual cases without knowing the full details but agreed “families have a right to answers.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “They have a right to know what happened in the case of their loved ones and they have a right to question things that were done and not done.
“I have a very deep and strong commitment to doing what is required to facilitate that process.”
Ms Sturgeon said clinicians decided on the best place of care for patients, which would be care homes for many older people.
Mr Leonard responded that he had a copy of the clinical guidance, which gave advice saying residents in long-term care should be managed within their current setting rather than hospital.
He said: “That’s been one of the greatest scandals of this pandemic … we can’t allow a second wave to result in a second scandal.”
The First Minister said clinical advice had been prepared independently of ministers “to cover the generality of a situation” but individual clinicians will always make the ultimate decision on what is best for a patient.