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by Louise Wilson
04 November 2020
MSPs to vote on care home deaths inquiry

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MSPs to vote on care home deaths inquiry

MSPs will today vote on whether to hold a public inquiry into deaths in care homes over the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

Leading the debate, the Scottish Conservatives’ motion says such an investigation must be “immediate”.

However, a Scottish Government amendment argues instead for a broader inquiry into the response to the pandemic, “once the country is through the immediacy” of it.

Almost half of Scotland’s coronavirus deaths have been in care homes and nearly a third of all care homes experienced an outbreak between 1 March and 21 June.

And a recent Public Health Scotland report revealed over 100 COVID-positive patients were discharged from hospital into care homes in the first three months.

However, analysis of the figures found hospital discharge was not statistically significant to the risk of an outbreak at the care home. Care home size had the strongest association with outbreaks of coronavirus.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Donald Cameron said: “The families of those who died in our care homes deserve answers and this stubborn and evasive SNP government must back down and do the right thing without any further delay.

 “This debate is the first opportunity MSPs will have to discuss these extraordinary revelations from Public Health Scotland, which left us with more questions than answers.”

But Constitution Secretary Mike Russell tweeted yesterday the debate was designed only to “smear” the SNP.

He added: “Everyone wants an end to this. At the end the full story must be told and all the lessons learnt.

“But to distract from using every resource from tackling the virus at this crucial moment would be wrong and indeed dangerous.”

The government’s amendment says “a public inquiry into all aspects of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including in the tragic loss of the lives of over 2,000 care home residents, should be held as quickly as is practicable, once the country is through the immediacy of dealing with the pandemic”.

Scottish Labour looks set to support the Conservative motion, with their amendment adding that any inquiry should take a “human rights approach” and the remit should be set through cross-party talks.

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