By Democrat reporter
The record number of hospital-onset Covid infections shows that Scotland’s medical staff are still not receiving the support and resources they need to battle Covid on NHS wards, says Scottish Labour.
And the LibDems have also weighed in to attack the SNP for boasting about record daily figures when Scotland is still way behind England.
Public Health Scotland figures this week revealed that the number of patients who became infected with Covid-19 while receiving treatment for non-Covid reasons reached their highest level in the pandemic so far.
The data showed that in the week ending January 10, 219 hospital patients were found to have definitely caught Covid-19 while on a ward for non-Covid treatment with a further 113 thought to have “probable hospital onset” of the virus. In total 332 people were either definitely or probably infected on wards.
Scottish Labour has said that the Scottish Government is not doing enough to protect staff and patients.
Interim leader Jackie Baillie, above right, said: “It is shocking that hospital Covid infections continue to be a problem so far into the pandemic, and while overall infection rates are going down it is clear that risks remain on our wards.
“For months Scottish Labour has raised the alarm on this very problem, calling for wider asymptomatic testing, better PPE and more assistance with infection control measures – but NHS workers cannot fight Covid on all fronts with limited staffing and support.
“Instead of patting themselves on the back for the vaccine roll-out, the SNP Government must commit to better resource our hospitals with a full roll-out of testing and PPE.
“If non-Covid healthcare cannot be safely delivered due to the virus taking hold in hospitals, lives will continue to be at risk.”
At First Minister’s Questions last Thursday, the Scottish Labour interim leader listed a trail of broken SNP vaccination promises and raised the cases of three over-70s in Fife who have not been invited for a vaccine appointment.
After the First Minister read out a helpline number in the chamber, Margaret, one of the pensioners whose case was raised by Ms Baillie, immediately called the helpline. She was merely told: “We can confirm that a letter will be posted to you soon”.
Ms Baillie also highlighted “a huge variation across the country” in the proportion of the population receiving the vaccine.
She said: “People across Scotland expect to be treated equally, not have their chance to have a vaccine determined by where they live.
“Our vaccine roll-out is much slower than England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The First Minister quite rightly says it is not a competition between nations but I have to say to her it is a race against the virus and we are not going fast enough.
“And even by the First Minister’s own promises, we are falling behind. First it was million vaccines by the end of January – but there had been less than 600,000. Then it was all adults over 18 by Spring – now they are aiming for just the over 50s by May.
“We were told that the vaccination programme was “ramping up”. But on Sunday we recorded our lowest daily rate so far.
“For the First Minster to meet her next promise of vaccinating all over 70s and the clinically vulnerable by 15 February our daily rate needs to increase immediately to at least 40,000 a day.
“So does the First Minister expect her latest target to be met or will it be her latest broken promise?”
Immediately after she raised the issue in Parliament, Ms Baillie said she had received a large number of emails from people across Scotland who had struggled to access the vaccination programme.
The MSP added: “From the moment I sat down after asking my questions, my phone was buzzing with emails from people across Scotland saying they tried phoning the number the First Minister read out, but it was no help at all.
” As these emails show, it is simply not credible for the First Minister to claim that ‘nothing is going wrong’ with the vaccine programme. The First Minister should withdraw this claim and make sure that people awaiting their vaccination are actually told what’s going on.”
Meanwhile, the Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has called on the Scottish Government to cut the boasting about daily vaccine rates when Scotland is still lagging England by 148,594.
Willie Rennie, left, says the Scottish Government’s sluggish roll-out of the life saving vaccine has improved but the gap with England is still huge.
Scotland should have vaccinated almost 1 million people by now but is still 148,594 shy of that number. 987,860 should have been vaccinated if Scotland had vaccinated at the same rate as England but only 839,266 have been vaccinated according to yesterday’s figures.
Willie Rennie said: “It is good news that Scotland’s roll-out is slowly picking up pace but the First Minister should cut the boasting about record daily figures when Scotland is still way behind England.
“Every day and every vaccine counts as the longer people are left unprotected the greater the exposure to risk and the longer it will take to defeat the virus.
“Almost a million people should have been vaccinated by now but we are way off that number because of the sluggish start to the roll-out here.”