LiveFMQs LIVE: Nicola Sturgeon under fire over contact tracing errors

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First Minister to speak in front of MSPs this afternoon picture: JPI Media
First Minister to speak in front of MSPs this afternoon picture: JPI Media

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FMQs LIVE: Nicola Sturgeon under fire over contact tracing errors

Last updated: Thursday, 12 November, 2020, 14:01

  • Covid-19 contact tracers fail to alert thousands of Scots who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • Level four warning issued for parts of Scotland to curb cases ahead of winter
  • Nicola Sturgeon told to ‘get a grip’ on contact tracing by opposition

Nicola Sturgeon told to ‘get a grip’ on contact tracing

Nicola Sturgeon has been told to “get a grip” of Scotland’s Covid-19 contact tracing regime amid criticism over failures to track down thousands of infected Scots and data errors.  

The First Minister insisted the Test and Protect system was "working well" as she came under fire from opposition leaders at Holyrood over shortcomings in the system.

It emerged today that more than 3,000 Scots who have tested positive since the tracing system was launched were not spoken to by tracers to get information about their contacts.

Tory leader Ruth Davidson also raised questions over a coding error that emerged this week indicating that thousands of Scots had been contacted earlier than was actually the case.

The SNP leader said the coding error meant Scots tested at 9am one day, then contacted at 11am the following day, were classed as being contacted within 24 hours.

"In actual fact that was slightly more than 24 hours," Ms Sturgeon said during First Minister’s Questions todayThursday.

"In many cases this is a difference of a very small number of hours. That said it shouldn't have happened.

"The most important thing in terms of public confidence is that Test and Protect is working to a very high standard."

It is now beating World Health Organisation standards, although the Tory leader insisted this was no being achieved in the early weeks of the system.

Read more by Scott Macnab

FM questioned on support for child mental health during coronavirus by Labour MSP Mary Fee

Ms Fee asked if the “small pockets of money” available for child support was enough to see improvement in Scotland’s services. 

FM there is need for greater investment in CAHMS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) but to also look into how these services are being delivered to children and young people. 

She said investment into the wellbeing of children and pupils at schools will be even more important after the coronavirus pandemic. 

FM says she’s aiming to ‘get to a sensible position’ on what people can do at Christmas and is aiming to come to a decision in ‘partnership and in an aligned way’ with UK Government and devolved nations

Scottish Government to invest £5m in rapid research projects

FM: "We are investing £5m in, I think, more than 50 rapid research projects to get some more understanding of what is needed. The NHS is currently already providing generalist support and care, but greater specialist care is undoubtedly going to be needed.

"I don't know exactly what the £10m in England is being invested in, but just to put it in context, £10m in a Scottish context would be £800,000. That's not going to get you much in the way of specialist clinics.

"But we cannot provide treatment until clinicians have a sufficient understanding of what specialist treatment people with Long Covid actually need. I understand how debilitating this must be. I've read the accounts as well." 

FM comments on concerns surrounding ‘long Covid’

“I think the issue of Long Covid is one of the most serious and profound implications of Covid," she said. 

"I have cited it myself many times in the past as one of the reasons why younger people, in particular, should not be complacent about Covid.

“The fact is, we need to understand it better. I've had long discussions with clinical advisers about this. The fact is right now, if we're talking about trying to create specialist facilities, there is not yet enough understanding of what specialisms are required.”

Green MSP Patrick Harvie tells the First Minister that “the cause for concern is still growing” over Donald Trump’s business dealings - pointing to issues involving Trump’s Scottish properties.

Mr Harvie tells the Scottish Govenrment to "go to court and seek those answers." 

FM says that is a decision for the Crown Office and not Scottish ministers.

FM confirms there is still no set plan about student’s return from the winter break in January

Green MSP Patrick Harvie now addressing the FM about a coronavirus vaccine

He talks about a risk of an increase in people believing in conspiracy theories about vaccinations, a growing concern in the US. 

FM said it’s a “very real” risk, but she said the Scottish Government will make sure all the information about the vaccine readily available, and the vaccine will be going through enough tests to make sure it’s safe. 

“If you are one of the eligible patients for testing then please come forward and be vaccinated,” she added. 

Richard Leonard questions FM about care home visits and says families are calling for help to be reunited with their loved ones.

The leader of the Scottish Labour party asked Nicola Sturgeon why there hasn’t been a priority for testing care home staff so that families can see their elderly loved ones. 

"Families are telling me ’we are running out of time’," said Mr Leonard. 

"Families are calling for our help, to be reunited with their loved ones. 

"If rapid testing can be introduced for students, why can’t rapid testing be introduced for these desperate families.'

FM said testing care home staff is a priority an the government is working on it. 

"We are introducing testing for care home visitors but we have to strike the right balance. 

“We are in a period of high prevalence so our priority is to keep people in care homes safe, but it is a delicate balance.”

MSP Richard Leonard challenging FM about test and protect errors, following on from Ruth Davidson

FM says despite the coding error, test and protest is working “at a very high standard” and public should continue to have “confidence” in the system. 

But Richard Leonard says the Scottish Government needs to work to get test and protest as “accurate” as possible.

‘Test and protect is working to a very high standard’, says FM

FM "all index cases are phoned" while "a mix of phonecall and text messages" are sent to contacts. 

FM: "I have confidence in this system and I think people across Scotland should have confidence in this system as well."

But Ms Davidson says that “accurate data is essential here.”

She called on the Scottish Government to “front up” information. 

Ruth Davidson questions the First Minister on the contact tracing system in Scotland following reported errors.

Nicola Sturgeon revealed there was a coding error in the test and protect system which led to confusion over how many  hours it was between being tested and the result. 

The First Minister went on to acknowledge the error but defended the test and protect system saying it has worked well.

Here are the latest Covid-19 figures released by the Scottish Government today:

1,212 new cases confirmed in the last 24 hours 

45 new deaths recorded

Of the new positive cases: 

474 in Greater Glasgow and Clyde

231 in Lanarkshire 

141 in Lothian 

76 in Fife

76 in Ayrshire and Arran

The other remaining cases have been reported in the eight other health boards across the country. 

To date: 1,207 people are in hospital, 28 less than the day before and 98 patients are being treated in intensive care having tested positive for Covid-19. 

FMQs has now begun. Nicola Sturgeon due to give update on daily coronavirus figures

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