Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed a public inquiry will be held into the Scottish Government’s response to coronavirus.
It came after she faced claims from Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw that residents in care homes have been “treated like second-class citizens”.
He told her what has happened in care homes is “a national scandal”.
The Scottish Government previously revealed more than 900 hospital patients were discharged into such facilities in March before testing for Covid-19 became mandatory.
Mr Carlaw criticised the First Minister as he raised the case of a Glasgow woman whose mother died in a care home in the city after contracting coronavirus.
Sandra O’Neill’s mother Mary died at the Almond Court care home in Drumchapel in April, Mr Carlaw said, going on to tell the First Minister how she had seen elderly people returned to the home “despite clearly being ill”.
He called on the First Minister to say whether there would be a public inquiry into the care home sector’s response to Covid-19.
“With or without hindsight, it is now clear that what happened in our care homes in March and April was a national scandal,” he said.
Raising the issue at First Minister’s Questions he added: “The tragic stories of people like Sandra’s mother underline the need not just for a review but for a formal pubic inquiry into what has happened in our care homes specifically.
“Will the First Minister confirm today she will in due course instruct that formal public inquiry into the care home sector?””
Ms Sturgeon told him: “Of course there will be a public inquiry into this whole crisis and every aspect of this crisis, and that will undoubtedly include what happened in care homes.”
Pressed by Mr Carlaw on whether hospital patients with Covid-19 symptoms were discharged to care homes, Ms Sturgeon conceded: “Clearly I did not see every patient who was discharged to a care home.
“I can not stand here and give a categoric assurance that no patient with symptoms was discharged, it would be wrong for me to do that.”
She said “very, very clear” guidance was in place at the time that risk assessments should have been carried out before patients left hospital.
Ms Sturgeon also recalled that at the time when many hospital patients were transferred into care homes “we were waiting for a tsunami of coronavirus cases to enter our hospitals”.
The First Minister said: “It would have been unthinkable to leave older people there in the face of that, that would have put them at huge risk and many I am sure would have died in those circumstances.
“And I think I would be getting asked different questions right now.”
Mr Carlaw said there is a “growing feeling that residents like Sandra’s mother were treated like second-class citizens”.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard made similar claims.
He said: “We now know the Government rushed to discharge almost 1,000 vulnerable patients from hospital in the month of March alone and we have now seen the devastating consequences in Scotland’s care homes.”
The First Minster responded that “decisions were taken for the best of reasons, based on the best evidence”.
She added: “Throughout this crisis I have taken the best decisions I can at every step of the way, based on the best information and evidence I had at the time.
“All of these decisions have been tough, some have been really tough, but I have not shied away from taking them.”
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