Scottish Labour call for independent investigation after more than 1,000 patients discharged into care homes hit by a Covid-19 outbreak

Scottish Labour have called for an independent investigation into the discharge of patients into care homes with a confirmed Covid-19 outbreak.

Patients were discharged from hospitals into care homes at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Patients were discharged from hospitals into care homes at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The comments come less than a week after a Public Health Scotland report stated that discharges had no statistically significant impact on outbreaks.

However, the controversial report only examined whether hospital discharge is associated with the first ever case in a care home.

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It found that more than 100 hospital patients were transferred into care homes after testing positive for Covid-19 under a Scottish Government policy compared to Russian roulette by opposition politicians.

Last week, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted that lessons would be learned ahead of a potentially difficult winter for the NHS and Scotland’s social care system.

Monica Lennon, the Scottish Labour health spokesperson, highlighted the fact 1,020 discharges into care homes took place after or on the day the care home outbreak started.

This was, at the time, in line with Scottish Government guidelines which permitted discharges into homes where a Covid-19 case had been reported.

The Labour MSP said: “It beggars belief that vulnerable people were placed in care homes with a known COVID-19 outbreak and this needs an urgent investigation.

“Under the same Scottish Government guidance, it was equally reckless that COVID-positive patients were knowingly transferred from hospital to care homes, increasing the risk to other residents and staff.

“SNP Ministers must be held to account for these decisions and the tragic consequences.

“The Scottish Government must stop the secrecy and allow the public inquiry to get underway. Without transparency and independent investigation, lessons are not being learned and that is putting more lives at risk.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson rejected the suggestion of secrecy and said the First Minister and Health Secretary have said they are “fully accountable” for their decisions, along with a commitment to hold a public inquiry.

They said: “The First Minister and Health Secretary have repeatedly and consistently made clear that they are fully accountable for their decisions. They have already said that there will be a full public inquiry to consider all the issues involving care homes and their residents.

“There is no secrecy here. The independent report commissioned by this government has been published and was scrutinised by Parliament just last week. We now have information available to us here in Scotland that other countries do not have.

"We have already said that we will take forward all of its recommendations and we will use the report’s findings to better understand all the factors driving outbreaks in care homes. We will do so openly and transparently and keep Parliament informed and updated.

“We are also clear that we will continue to learn lessons, to apply those lessons and take with the utmost seriousness the duty on government to do all we can to protect people, especially the most vulnerable. Saving people’s lives has been and will continue to be our priority throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no doubt that Covid-19 has taken a toll on people in care homes. We know that individuals and their families have experienced distress and grief, and we are truly sorry for that.”

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