Freeman: I’ve ‘not seen guidance’ sending patients into care homes with no test results

Scottish Labour has accused Health Secretary Jeane Freeman of failing to keep on top of her own government’s advice to care homes after she told a TV interview that she had “not seen the final updated guidance”.

It came as reports suggest some care homes in Scotland have infection rates of up to 73%.

HC-One, the chain which operates a care home on Skye which has seen six deaths in the past week, has issued an apology and said “we know we have not always got things right”.

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Ms Freeman was being asked about new advice issued by the Scottish Government on Saturday night that suggests patients can be discharged from hospital into a care home before receiving the results of a coronavirus test.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish ParliamentHealth Secretary Jeane Freeman during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament

The Health Secretary told the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme that “both I and the First Minister have been clear that before you are discharged from hospital to go to a care home, you must have been given two negative tests” for coronavirus.

However, the guidance states that for patients who have been in hospital for non-coronavirus related treatment, and are not showing any symptoms, “a single test is sufficient”, no more than 48 hours before being discharged.

The guidance adds: “The patient may be discharged to the care home prior to the test result being available.

“The patient should be isolated for 14 days from the date of discharge from hospital. Risk assessment prior to discharge from hospital should be undertaken in conjunction with the care home.”

Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Monica Lennon, said: “Care homes are at the epicentre of the crisis.

“Jeane Freeman’s admission that she hasn’t seen the latest care home guidance issued by her own government is astonishing.

“We can’t have a situation where the BBC knows more about government policy during a national crisis than the Health Secretary does.

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“Protecting vulnerable residents and staff should be Jeane Freeman’s priority.”

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