Nicola Sturgeon has said she acted with “thought and care” around the discharge of untested hospital patients into care homes in the early days of the coronavirus crisis.
The First Minister said “we perhaps didn’t have many good choices” when it came to dealing with elderly delayed discharge patients in Scottish hospitals.
Asked about the issue at her daily coronavirus briefing on Monday, she said that with the benefit of hindsight she may have come to different decisions about “a range of things” in the response to Covid-19.
Scottish Government delayed discharge figures indicate 921 patients were released from hospitals into care homes in March, but mandatory testing of all new residents was not announced until April 21.
Opposition politicians have said this led to the virus spreading rapidly in care homes.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It’s very easy to apply hindsight right now and to say what we did then was completely wrong.
“But if you think back to then, we perhaps didn’t have many good choices. We were in a situation where we had older people who are not medically required to be in hospital, in what we call the delayed discharge category.
“And at that time, we were preparing for an influx of coronavirus cases into our hospitals.”
She said the government would have been putting those patients at “significant risk” if they had simply been left in hospital.
On testing, she said: “There are legitimate issues there.
“But of course back then, there was a different view about the efficacy of testing people who didn’t have symptoms.”
She said she expected there would be inquiries and reviews into every aspect of the coronavirus crisis and government responses to it.
The First Minister said care homes had been issued with “very strong guidance” on isolation and infection control measures.
She said: “What I take real exception to is anybody who suggests that we didn’t act with real thought and care around older people in hospital being discharged to care homes.
“You may apply hindsight and say we could have done things differently and it’s perfectly legitimate for people to do that.
“But at every stage, we have sought to take the right decisions based on what we thought was the right thing to do to keep people safe.
“We will continue to do that, adapting our responses as our knowledge of this virus continues to increase.”
Support The Courier today.
The Courier is committed to delivering quality content to our communities and right now that’s more important than ever — which is why our key content is free. However, you can support us and access premium content by subscribing to The Courier from just £5.99 a month. Because Local Matters.Subscribe