Why SNP should have ‘U-turned’ over Covid in care homes – Brian Wilson

Politicians cannot escape responsibility by trying to blame ‘clinicians’ for the failure to send care home residents with Covid-19 to hospital, writes Brian Wilson.

Nicola Sturgeon has made clear she’s central to Covid decision-making, says Brian Wilson (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Nicola Sturgeon has made clear she’s central to Covid decision-making, says Brian Wilson (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

I have never regarded the “U-turn” charge as persuasive. If governments were doing the wrong thing before and the right thing now, most will regard that as positive rather than negative. But denial negates entitlement to credit.

In the case of Scottish schools re-opening, there was obviously a major change of policy forced by public opinion. That is probably a good thing while it is absurd to claim no such change occurred.

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Just having heard Nicola Sturgeon make that claim, I turned on the radio and a headteacher was relating how they were now knocking down partitions erected in response to the Swinney statement.

I found that practical example more convincing than Ms Sturgeon.

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Covid in care homes ‘is the worst failure of devolution’

For three months, the First Minister made clear – or indeed very, very clear – that she is central to all aspects of decision-making. The dominant pronoun has been “I” rather than “we”. Many have been impressed with this style; others, less so.

I now note a change of tone. Challenged on the care homes scandal and failure to refer residents with Covid-19 to hospital, Ms Sturgeon protested that these were judgments of “clinicians” and nothing to do with her, guv.

This will not wash. For many weeks, she swatted aside all efforts to challenge policies relating to care homes. As late as mid-May, Scottish Government guidance was not to refer care home patients to hospitals while untested traffic in the other direction imported the virus into many homes.

“U-turns” on these policies would have been extremely welcome in response to well-founded pleas and might have saved many lives. It’s a bit late to claim they were the work of “clinicians” for which politicians bear no responsibility.

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