The First Minister and the Health Secretary have both now been open and honest enough to admit that had they known then what they know now, they would not have moved more than 900 elderly, but fit enough for discharge, patients into care homes without them first being tested.

It was a well-intentioned act to protect hospitals against a surge of covid cases that many believed might happen and against a background of expert opinion, from Public Health England, that the risk of infection in care homes was ‘very unlikely.’

The First Minister and the Health Secretary are right to admit errors made in such complex and changing circumstances and to take responsibility, but they were only part a decision-making process where politicians must surely be able to rely on their expert advisers and, critically, on the care home owners to look after the vulnerable people they are paid to care for.

On average, each care home took, voluntarily, only two additional residents: https://talkingupscotlandtwo.com/2020/05/17/fact-check-there-was-no-spike-in-care-home-admissions-in-march-triggering-mass-deaths/

With care home fees at around £1000 per person per week and care staff on minimum wages, these businesses must surely have been able to afford the space, support and PPE needed to isolate these new arrivals and to protect the other residents with proper infection control.

https://ukcareguide.co.uk/care-home-costs/

That some care homes failed to implement basic infection control is already emerging in reports. More will follow.

Tom Gordon, mentions none of the above and of course chooses his language carefully to imply guilt on behalf of the ministers. So we hear:

The transfers took place when the Scottish Government was desperate to free hospital beds in anticipation of a “tsunami” of coronavirus patients.

‘Desperate’ or working hard on our behalf?

Amid fears the transfers could spread the virus across Scotland’s 1000 or so care homes, opposition parties demanded mandatory testing for would-be residents for weeks. However the Scottish Government did not bring in mandatory testing until April 21.

I’ve searched hard. The earliest I can find is 15th April by Jackson Carlaw, only six days before, then Richard Leonard on the 16th.

In a particularly ill-informed or dishonest and one, he writes:

She also claimed leaving those elderly people in hospital may exposed them to “enormous risk”, despite the superior PPE and infection control regimes in hospitals. 

So, like Gordon Brewer, he seems not to get it. It’s not about physical risk but about mental health. Many of these patients have dementia and hospitals can be incredibly difficult places for them. Research by Marie Curie Cancer Care, in 2015 found:

Spending periods of time in hospital can be extremely distressing for people
with dementia. Research has shown that those admitted to hospital with dementia are more likely to die during an admission and in the six
months after their hospital admission.
[16]

https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/globalassets/media/documents/policy/policy-publications/february-2015/living-and-dying-with-dementia-in-scotland-report-2015.pdf

I didn’t have to find that to know it. The Chief Nursing Officer has made the point repeatedly at the briefings.

Perhaps most important for this discussion, Public Health England have concluded that temporary care home workers were likely to be responsible for the spread of the infection.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/18/agency-staff-were-spreading-covid-19-between-care-homes-phe-found-in-april

The Skye care home deaths suggest the same cause.