When Nicola Sturgeon knew about care home transfers is being kept secret
The First Minister has denied she is being evasive over when she was first made aware that known Covid positive hospital patients were being sent to care homes in the early weeks of the pandemic – despite saying she couldn’t “put a date” on when she first found out.
The row has erupted after a damning report from Public Health Scotland revealed that 113 positive patients were sent to care homes and more than 3,000 who had not been tested were also moved to care homes in the early weeks of the Covid-19 crisis.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay has demanded that relatives of those who have died in care homes deserve answers after his plea for information was rejected by the Scottish Government.
The Lothians MSP submitted a freedom of information request to the Scottish Government, asking for “all emails, letters, notes of phone calls, texts, encrypted messages, agendas or minutes of meetings that relate to the date the First Minister was made aware that patients were being transferred from hospitals to care homes after having tested positive for Covid-19.”
But officials declined to hand over the information, pointing to rules that it would cost too much to wade through streams of paperwork.
Officials told Mr Findlay that it would cost an estimated £1,320 to comply with the request when a cap is set at £600.
The officials added: “By way of further explanation, we conducted a search for all records held on the Scottish Government’s electronic record and document management system.
“This included all records created between 01 March 2020 and 10 September 2020 that used the key phrase ‘patients transferred to care homes positive for COVID-19’.
The officials added that it would also need to pay someone a full day’s work or 7.5 hours to redact the material before it could be handed over.
Mr Findlay said: “The issue of when Nicola Sturgeon and Jeane Freeman knew Covid positive patients were being discharged untested into care home becomes more of a scandal by the day.
“I have asked this question on many occasions and they go through all sorts of contortions to avoid giving the one thing we need to know – a date.”
He added: “This FOI shows not only that the information exists but there are over 1,000 pages of it. Not only won’t they release it but even it were they are saying quite clearly that it would be heavily redacted and it would take 7.5 hours to do.
“Families of the bereaved deserve answers not secrecy, cover up and redaction.”