Over 100 covid patients discharged into Scottish care homes, report reveals

28 October 2020, 18:19 | Updated: 28 October 2020, 18:46

By Joe Cook

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has conceded they “got some things wrong”, after a report revealed 113 hospital patients were discharged into care homes after testing positive for coronavirus.

The new Public Health Scotland study also revealed at least 80 percent of the 3,599 patients discharged from hospital into care homes between March 1 and April 21 were not tested for coronavirus.

Six in 10 Scottish care homes have suffered a coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began, with almost 2,000 deaths recorded in the homes.

The report’s authors say they do not believe the discharge of patients into care homes was a big cause of the coronavirus outbreaks in the care sector.

However, they also state they “cannot exclude a moderate to large excess risk from a care home receiving a discharge where the last test was positive".

Forced to defend Scotland’s handling of care homes at her daily press conference, the First Minister, quoting directly from the report, said: "The analysis does not find statistical evidence that hospital discharges of any kind were associated with care home outbreaks."

But she added: "Nothing in it detracts from the tragedy of the deaths that have occurred in care homes over the course of the pandemic, and nothing ever will detract from the heartbreak of those bereaved."

Read more: Protect Scotland Covid-19 app now works in Northern Ireland and Jersey

Nicola Sturgeon speaking at the Scottish Parliament on 27 October.
Ms Sturgeon said Public Health Scotland will now carry out further work to give a more detailed understanding of Covid-19 outbreaks in care homes. Picture: Getty

Ms Sturgeon conceded: “We've got some things wrong and tried to rectify those things as we learned more about the virus and how it spread.

“Of course we have known that there were concerns about older people without being tested going to care homes and the risks that created.

“I have said in the last few days that we didn't know about specific test results.”

Opposition parties in Scotland have accused the government of reacting “offensively” to the report and playing “russian roulette” with care home residents.

Labour’s health spokesperson Monica Lennon said: “The decision to move patients with Covid-19 into care homes was reckless and SNP ministers must be held to account for this Russian roulette strategy.

“The combination of knowingly transferring the virus into care homes and not bothering to test hundreds of other patients before moving them is unfathomable.

Meanwhile Scottish Conservatives’ Holyrood leader, Ruth Davidson, said: “The SNP government’s response to this report is wholly inadequate and will give little comfort to those grieving families still trying to find out how and why their loved one died.”

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Read more: Growing pressure on PM to increase Covid restrictions as daily death toll rises

Since April 22 everyone leaving hospital for a care home has to have two negative tests before being moved on.

But the row in Scotland continues over whether the Scottish Government acted quickly enough in upping testing for care home residents.

Ms Sturgeon said Public Health Scotland will now carry out further work to give a more detailed understanding of Covid-19 outbreaks in care homes.

She pledged: "Where the reports conclusions highlight the need for additional measures, we will act on that.

"I want people to know we take this very seriously."