FM stresses Covid public inquiry will look at care homes

It follows revelations that 37 patients with coronavirus were transferred to care homes in March and April.

Nicola Sturgeon has restated that the public inquiry into Scotland’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic will examine care homes.

It comes after revelations that 37 patients were discharged from hospitals to care homes despite testing positive for coronavirus in the early months of the pandemic.

The First Minister said she did not know of any further such cases but effectively confirmed the original report made in the Sunday Post.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Monday briefing, she defended its handling of the situation in care homes as Covid cases began to climb in the country in March and April.

Sturgeon said officials took care to ensure the most appropriate guidance was in place from what they knew of the virus in the pandemic’s early stages.

This included from mid-March guidance requiring clinical screening of patients being transferred from hospitals to care homes “to guard against inappropriate transfer”.

But opposition parties have rounded on the government over the new claims, with Scottish Labour calling on the Lord Advocate to investigate.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives say the promised public inquiry into coronavirus should begin this week.

A unit set up in May is already investigating the number of deaths in Scotland’s care homes as a result of the pandemic.

Sturgeon told the briefing the government will “continue to consider” the timing of an inquiry into the Covid-19 response.

More people have died as a result of the virus in care homes than any other setting in Scotland.

A total of 1956 care home residents have died with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, according to the latest National Records of Scotland figures.

That’s nearly half of the total 4213 Covid-linked deaths recorded by NRS up to August 9.

Sturgeon said: “I want to be clear that while there will undoubtedly be lessons to learn when a new virus is encountered – and we take that very seriously – care was taken to put guidance in place that was considered to be appropriate at every stage.”

The mid-March guidance advised social isolation within care homes, she said, as well as clinical screening of patients transferred to homes from hospitals.

The First Minister reiterated her commitment to a public inquiry, which she said will be held “in due course”.

She added: “Proper scrutiny of all and every aspect of our response to Covid, including of course in care homes, is really essential.

“That scrutiny will, and must, include consideration of whether, based on what we knew at each stage, the guidance in place at each stage was both appropriate and properly implemented.”

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