Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed calls for an immediate public inquiry into the impact of coronavirus crisis on care homes.
The First Minister said with Scotland in the “grip of a second wave” of the virus the time is not right for such an investigation.
She restated her commitment to holding a “full public inquiry” in due course, which she said will examine what happened in care homes.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs: “We are in the grip of a second wave of Covid, I think it is right that we enable everybody who has a part to play to focus on getting the country through that.”
She faced calls from Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson for an inquiry to start “now”.
The Tory pressed her on the issue at First Minister’s Questions the day after Public Health Scotland published a report on the transfer of elderly patients from hospitals to care homes in the early months of the pandemic.
More than 100 people who had tested positive for Covid-19 were discharged from hospitals into care homes without first receiving a negative test, the report said.
The First Minister it found “hospital discharges were not found to have contributed to a significantly higher risk of an outbreak”.
Ms Davidson said variations in the level of risk meant transferring patients with coronavirus caused a “374% increase in risk of seeing Covid rip through care homes”.
She added: “This is exactly why we need the public inquiry to start now, there is still so much we don’t know.”
The Tory also criticised the “delay, the spin and the sleight of hand surrounding this report”, claiming a “crucial line” that said it was “likely that hospital discharges are the source of introduction of infection in a small number of cases” was not included in the final document.
Ms Sturgeon was also pressed on the issue by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who said “care homes which took discharges were three times more likely to have outbreaks than those who did not”.
He added: “The crisis in our care homes didn’t just have one cause, the lack of PPE, despite warning after warning, the lack of testing of care home staff, despite warning after warning, years of underfunding, despite warning after warning.”
The First Minister told MSPs: “There will be a full public inquiry when the time for that is right, when we have got the country through this next stage of Covid.”
Her comments came as she told Holyrood of the “depths of my regret at what happened in care homes”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I don’t expect any grieving family to think they have all the answers to the questions they have in this report, I want to do everything we can to provide those answers.
“These grieving families and care homes is probably the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to sleep.”
She said later: “I am sorry for any error that I have made in this, I’ve said that many times before.
“I’m not carefully choosing my words – I probably don’t have the capacity to do that at the moment – I am trying to be as frank as possible and we’ve got things wrong and we will continue to try to put that right, and we will have all of the normal processes of accountability.”
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