Health secretary Jeane Freeman has announced plans to set up an inquiry about the impact of coronavirus on Scotland’s care homes but warned it will not be done quickly.
Holyrood’s opposition parties passed a motion on November 4 calling for the Scottish Government to hold an “immediate public inquiry” to look into why so many care home residents with Covid-19 had died during the pandemic.
Freeman initially rebuffed Parliament’s demands and instead suggested a UK-wide inquiry should be carried out at a later date.
But during Topical Questions on Tuesday, Freeman revealed her calls for a four-nations approach had been ignored and indicated the Scottish Government “will now begin the steps” to set up an inquiry.
Despite an insistence she “would never disrespect the will of this Parliament”, Freeman said there were “significant steps” required to set up an inquiry and it could not be done immediately as the motion stated.
She told MSPs: “I have sought to see if it is possible to have a public inquiry that is at least in part rests on the four nations, I think that makes a great deal of sense.
“I regret I’ve not had a response so we will now begin the steps.
“But members should not be under any illusion that it is a quick exercise to set up a public inquiry.
“There are significant steps that need to be undertaken that involve the Lord President or Lord Advocate, and others.”
Before the Scottish Government’s defeat over the Scottish Conservatives’ motion, Freeman had argued a coronavirus public inquiry should be held “once the country is through the immediacy of dealing with the pandemic”.
She had said the Scottish Government “wants and will welcome a public inquiry”, telling MSPs it could be “critical” in helping learn lessons from Covid-19.