First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Labour MSP Neil Findlay.
By Bill Heaney
Why on earth are we continuing to discharge patients from hospitals to care homes without establishing whether they are positive for Covid-19?
This was the question from Labour MSP Neil Findlay that had First Minister Nicola Sturgeon almost in tears this week.
Or maybe it was more to do with the tone in which the question was asked than the actual content?
Mr Findlay said: “My mum, like thousands of our loved ones, is in a care home. We now have the worst death rates in Europe, and care homes are at the epicentre of the crisis. It has been announced today that 59 per cent of deaths are occurring in care homes.
“Why on earth are we continuing to discharge patients from hospitals to care homes without establishing whether they are positive for Covid-19? I am not one ever to plead with the First Minister, but I will do so now. Please stop that practice now to save the lives of residents and the great people who look after them.
The First Minister filled up at this point. She then told Mr Findlay: “I will come on to the specifics of what happens in care homes, because they are so important. However, first, I say to Neil Findlay that every single one of us is deeply concerned and moved by what is happening in our care homes.
“That is particularly the case for people who have relatives in care homes, such as Neil Findlay, but 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.
“On the situation in care homes, if a patient in a hospital has the virus, they must have two negative tests before they can be discharged. If a patient has not had the virus but is being discharged to a care home, they should be tested 48 hours before they are due for discharge.
“If the judgment is that it is right for that person not to remain in hospital but that it would be better for them to be in a care home, they must be isolated in that care home for 14 days if their test result has not been known.
“Therefore, at every single step of the way the priority is to prevent infection from getting into care homes. The ways in which that is done are clinically driven and led, and they are also led by what is in the best interests of the individual and in the interests of trying to prevent infection in care homes.
“Even if Neil Findlay does not agree with the detail of that policy—as he is absolutely entitled to do—I hope that he will take it in good faith that we are doing the things that we have been advised to do as the best ways of protecting individuals at every single step of the way, whether they are in hospital, care homes or communities.”