First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is unable to reveal how many people have been discharged from hospital to care homes without a negative Covid-19 test.
In April, the Scottish Government changed guidance to ensure those in hospital due to coronavirus would need two negative tests before being moved to their own home or a residential care setting, while other people not impacted by Covid-19 need to test negative once.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said at the weekend that some patients have been discharged to care homes at the behest of clinicians after a risk assessment is carried out.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard asked Ms Sturgeon if she could tell him how many people had been discharged without a test.
“I can’t give that information because this is clinical decisions taken by clinicians”, the First Minister replied.
“That is the policy in any situation. I have had lengthy discussions with the chief medical officer and clinicians about this.
“In any policy, there are ethical reasons and clinical reasons why there have to be exceptions in some circumstances.”
Public Health Scotland released a report last month into care home discharges in the early part of the pandemic, which found more than 100 were moved after a positive test.
At the time, Ms Sturgeon said the report did not establish a link between discharges and higher risks of outbreaks.
The First Minister said testing is “not the only part” of protections put in place to ensure residents in care homes are safe, pointing to an imposed 14-day period of isolation for anyone discharged to a care home regardless of test results.
Mr Leonard replied: “If the Cabinet Secretary for Health describes it as a very small number, I would have thought it would have made sense for the Government to monitor the number of Covid-positive and untested patients being discharged to care homes.”
An investigation by the Crown Office has also been set up to deal with deaths in care homes as a result of the pandemic.
National Records of Scotland data published on Wednesday shows 2,240 people have died in care homes when Covid-19 was a confirmed or suspected cause of death.
Mr Leonard asked the First Minister if she expected herself or her ministers to be interviewed in the course of the investigation.
Ms Sturgeon said: “What evidence the Crown Office seek in relation to any investigation that they are involved in and who the Crown Office chooses to speak to in relation to any investigation they are involved in is a matter for the Crown Office.
“It would be completely wrong for me to seek to comment on that in ways that would be trying in some way to influence the outcome of this or any other investigation.”
The First Minister reiterated the Scottish Government acted “in a way that was intended to protect the population and protect those in care homes as much as possible”.
She added: “I have never, ever stood here and suggested that there were not things that we got wrong.”