Brian Wilson : Questions about Covid care home deaths must be tackled by Sturgeon

Having been tested for Covid-19 last weekend, I am among the eight per cent of Scots who have had that privilege.
The First Minister faced "reasonable and serious" questions about the discharge of elderly Covid-19 patients from hospitals into care homes. PIC: Getty.The First Minister faced "reasonable and serious" questions about the discharge of elderly Covid-19 patients from hospitals into care homes. PIC: Getty.
The First Minister faced "reasonable and serious" questions about the discharge of elderly Covid-19 patients from hospitals into care homes. PIC: Getty.

I was due to attend a football match two days later and was following Uefa rules. Footballers are tested twice a week. In contrast, there are still plenty frontline staff in Scotland

who have never been tested at all.

Most Scottish care workers are now sent self-test kits by the UK Government which show seven per cent asymptomatic but positive. The logic is that – for months – many untested staff were carrying the virus as they worked on the frontline.

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When entering a football stadium, I have my temperature taken – the first time since departing from Bangkok airport in February. There have been 58 Covid-19 deaths in Thailand compared to 4,216 in Scotland. Maybe they got something right.

Yet perceptions are set by she who controls the airwaves. Fingers are wagged at misguided young footballers and the specific quickly becomes the general. “Football” is on a yellow card with the threat of a red. Headline achieved.

The conduct of “football” in general has been exemplary. Can the same be said of those responsible for policies which have contributed to the third-worst death rate in Europe and the highest, bar only Spain, for deaths in care homes?

Not only were untested hospital patients discharged wholesale into care homes but a significant number who had tested positive were transferred into a setting which (as demonstrated in Spain) was the most deadly for the virus to do its work. Yellow card? Red card?

We do not know how many were in each category (untested and tested positive) because Scotland’s largest health boards declined to provide that information. Don’t they learn well at the feet of the masters?

At First Minister’s Questions, Ruth Davidson asked brief questions which demanded straightforward, honest answers. “Did anyone in the Scottish Government know... that hospital patients who previously tested positive for Covid had subsequently been transferred into a care home? If they knew, when did they know, and why was it not made public?”

Amidst the verbiage that followed, there were no answers. It was down to “individual clinical decisions”.

So are we to believe that 100 doctors throughout Scotland transferred elderly people with Covid-19 into care homes, and nobody in the Scottish Government knew anything about it?

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Ms Davidson tried to pursue her reasonable, serious questions. For her trouble, she was sneered at by Ms Sturgeon for “leaving democratic politics” which seemed a distinctly secondary matter to the deaths of 2,000 elderly Scots.

One revelation (to me at least) was that the Lord Advocate has instructed inquiries into individual deaths in care homes. However, Police Scotland have been told not to investigate the means by which the virus was brought into the home.

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How is that distinction possible and whose interests does it serve? It is certainly the question the vast majority of the bereaved want answered. It is also the one most relevant to planning for prevention of a repeat disaster.

Yet, while care home staff – in the frontline – are being asked to spend time providing police with extensive information about case histories, the big questions have been kicked into touch on the grounds an inquiry would be a diversion for ministers and officials.

We can be pretty sure Ms Sturgeon has no appetite for an inquiry that reports before next May. I will be delighted to be proved wrong for such unnecessary delay will be an affront to the families who need answers now, to very serious questions.

As for Professor Devi Sridhar’s unsubstantiated trope about people from England “streaming” into Scotland, disease in their wake, I wonder what the liberal consciences of Edinburgh University would think if it was applied to any other ethnic group?

Is it any wonder there are idiots at Edinburgh Airport with their mad banners? Back in Devi’s native Florida, the Covid-19 death toll has passed 10,000. Terrible – but still less than half the Scottish rate. I hope she won’t be campaigning to “build that wall”.