In the Herald today:
MATT HANCOCK has disputed claims he mishandled care home discharges and said the Scottish Government had the “same issues” to deal with as he did. Speaking to MPs this morning, the health secretary was put under pressure to explain the allegations made against him yesterday by former senior aide Dominic Cummings.
He’s right, we did have the same issues. To make sure hospitals were not overwhelmed and to protect the vulnerable more at risk in hospitals than back in care homes, NHS Scotland and NHS England discharged patients, some not tested, more quickly from hospital wards back into the existing infection control regimes which care homes were already legally obliged to have.
So, two important facts in support of Hancock:
- There is no evidence whatsoever that hospital discharges caused any Covid outbreaks in care homes. They were almost certainly, in every case, caused by community transmission, inadvertently spread by agency staff in large, overcrowded, understaffed privately-owned homes with inadequate staff training and PPE supplies.
- According to Robert Cuffe, the BBC’s Head of Statistics, on the BBC News at 6 in early May 2021, those Care Homes that received discharges, actually had a lower rate of Covid deaths.
Where Hancock did fail was in allowing the delay in vaccinating care home residents, throughout December 2020 and January 2021, because of technical challenges with Pfizer and triggering a wave of deaths more than twice that in Scotland.