Nicola Sturgeon 'welcomes' publication of Covid-19 deaths by hospital after NRS U-turn

Nicola Sturgeon has welcomed the additional transparency that will come after the National Records of Scotland (NRS) was forced into its second U-turn over the publication of Covid-19 deaths.

The Scotsman exclusively revealed the NRS intends to make public the breakdown of Covid-19 deaths in NHS facilities such as hospitals on Wednesday following a transparency battle with this newspaper.

It comes after the NRS was found to have unlawfully suppressed the scale of Covid-19 deaths in individual care homes by the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) last week in a breach of Freedom of Information legislation.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA

That data, alongside the hospital death data, will now be published for the first time during the pandemic.

This U-turn comes as a direct result of the SIC decision, with the NRS recognising their opposition to the publication of the data could not be sustained.

Asked to comment on the U-turn by the NRS, which had initially claimed publication of the death data in hospitals would threaten the health and safety of staff and family members of the deceased, the First Minister said she was keen to have as much information made public as possible.

She said: “The NRS is an executive agency of the Scottish Government, it operates independently. It wouldn’t be right for me, particularly as an organisation which deals with statistics and the publication of statistics, to dictate what it does and doesn’t do.

"I have always and we have, if you go back to the outset of this pandemic and compare what we published in the early days compared to what we publish now, it is like a different world.

"We have as we have gone through tried to increase the data that we’ve been publishing, what that data covers, the breakdown and granularity of that data and we will continue to do that, so I welcome anything that contributes to that.

"The NRS clearly have to respond to decisions and judgements of the Freedom of Information commissioner, but there is always a desire to see as much information and data published as possible, not least to inform our own response, but also to make sure that the public have as great and as deep an understanding of the situation as possible.”

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