The question Nicola Sturgeon failed to answer about Covid-19 in care homes – Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson says Nicola Sturgeon should answer the question put to her in the Scottish Parliament by Neil Findlay: “Why on earth are we continuing to discharge patients from hospitals to care homes without establishing whether they are positive for Covid-19?”

Neil Findlay MSP did not suggest the Scottish Government wasn’t ‘trying’ (Picture: John Devlin)

It is in the spirit of devolution that if there is different medical advice on relaxing lockdown, that decision should be taken in Scotland. I suspect there will be less variation than headlines suggest, but we shall see.

Equally, the Scottish Government has full responsibility for what is happening in care homes and it is entirely legitimate to scrutinise their approach as Labour MSP, Neil Findlay, did at First Minister’s Questions.

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He asked: “Why on earth are we continuing to discharge patients from hospitals to care homes without establishing whether they are positive for Covid-19? ... Please stop that practice now to save the lives of residents and the great people who look after them.”

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I have watched Mr Findlay’s contribution, read the transcript and can find nothing unreasonable in tone or content. It is a question many will be grateful to him for asking.

In response, Ms Sturgeon said: “I do not think that a single one of us does not find the situation deeply and profoundly upsetting. So please do not ask such questions in a way that suggests that we are not all trying to do everything that we possibly can in order to do the right thing.”

Ms Sturgeon is political to her fingertips and knows the meaning of words. She therefore knew that no such imputation about ”trying” had been made and it was a diversion to pretend otherwise. Mr Findlay’s straightforward question, I need hardly say, remains unanswered.

In due course, there are huge ethical and practical issues to inquire into in Scotland as elsewhere about failure to protect the vulnerable in care homes.

It will not be impolite to ask such questions but absolutely essential.

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