Scottish government admits care home ‘mistake’ on Covid
The Scottish government has admitted that it failed to take the "right precautions" when discharging patients from hospitals into care homes during the first wave of the Covid pandemic.
Speaking to the BBC, Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman (pictured) said the SNP did not understand the "social care sector well enough” when older people were discharged from hospitals.
“We wanted people who didn’t need to stay in hospital any longer, because they’d been treated and they were clinically well, to be discharged as quickly as possible so we freed up those beds for Covid patients,” she told the Political Thinking with Nick Robinson podcast.
“Remember, the early predictions about the number of people going into hospital were terrifying. But we didn’t take the right precautions to make sure that older people leaving hospital going into care homes were as safe as they could be and that was a mistake.”
Freeman, who will step down from Holyrood at next month's Scottish election, continued: “Now, I might argue we couldn’t do anything other than we did, but it still created a real problem for those older people and for the others who lived in care homes and for the staff who worked in care homes.”
There have been more than 10,000 Covid-related deaths in Scotland, around a third occurring in care homes.
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said the admissions by the SNP would “offer no comfort to the families of those who needlessly lost loved ones due to the Scottish government’s errors”.
“Lessons that could have been learned were ignored. The time for reflection was when it could have saved lives, not now on podcasts,” she added.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross meanwhile accused the SNP of covering up their mistakes.
“It’s a disgrace that the SNP covered up their mistake for so long. Their report on care home deaths was delayed and when it was finally published, they tried to spin it,” he said.
Ross added: “The transfer of Covid-positive patients didn’t just cause a ‘real problem’, as Jeane Freeman states, it cost many vulnerable people their lives. We now know why the SNP refused to launch an immediate public inquiry as Parliament demanded.
“They made a grave error and instead of fronting it up, they tried to hide it from the public. People will be left wondering – why is Jeane Freeman only willing to admit such a huge mistake was made now?”.