Nicola Sturgeon: 'I expected result of delayed Covid-19 care home report to be different'

Nicola Sturgeon said she expected the results of the delayed report into hospital discharges into care homes to show more of an impact and again claimed she could not remember when she first came to know about positive Covid-19 patients being discharged into hospital.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she takes responsibility for the policy decisions around care homes and Covid-19
Nicola Sturgeon has said she takes responsibility for the policy decisions around care homes and Covid-19

The First Minister, speaking shortly after the Public Health Scotland report into hospital discharges revealed the scale of the number of patients moved into care homes without a Covid-19 test, said she took responsibility for the policy at the time, which was to not test patients being discharged.

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Ms Sturgeon said she expected the conclusion of the report – that hospital discharges were not statistically significant in causing care home outbreaks of Covid-19 where nearly 2,000 people died of the disease – to be different.

Responding to questions from journalists at today’s daily briefing, she said it “doesn’t do anybody any good” to suggest the policy did have a major impact following the report.

Ms Sturgeon said: "If I’m being honest, I expected this report to reach a different conclusion to the one that it has because I think, intuitively, you would think that that would be the case.

"It doesn’t do anybody any good when it hasn’t to continually try and say that it does because that means we have to work harder to understand the drivers and factors and that is work that we take really seriously.”

When asked why more work on understanding the causes of care home outbreaks had not been done, the First Minister claimed Scotland was ahead of the curve in ordered analysis of the issue.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I think we have done a lot – based on my impression there are not too many countries who have done the detailed work that Public Health Scotland have published today.

"Our learning around this continues all the time.

"Even thought this report is saying that [not testing patients discharged into care homes from hospitals] wasn’t the big significant factor in outbreaks we might have expected, that has changed because our understanding of different things that drive these decisions have changed.

"We have changed already the governance around care homes with the directors of public health, much more responsible of the oversight for that to make sure that guidance around infection prevention and control is properly being implemented.

"There is always more we can do … I’m not sure that we are behind other countries in trying to learn from this, I think we are doing a great deal and we want to carry on with that.”

Pressed on when she knew about positive cases being discharged into care homes, the First Minister said she could not put a specific date on when she first knew, but took responsibility for the policy throughout the pandemic.

She said: “Maybe I don’t always articulate this as clearly as I can, but there is no part of my trying to evade these issues and there’s not part of me trying to evade accountability for these issues.

"People who matter here are people in care homes and their relatives, but probably some of the darkest moments I’ve lived through were at the height of what happened in care homes earlier in the year and knowing decisions I was responsible for were impacting that.”

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