MSPs denied chance to raise Covid questions despite recall of Scottish Parliament

Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay says it is "outrageous" that today's recall of parliament cannot be used to quiz ministers on Health Secretary Jeane Freeman's admission that moving patients from hospitals into care homes during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic was a “mistake”.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 12:04 pm
Neil Findlay repeatedly raised concerns about care home discharges in the Scottish Parliament     pic: Fraser Bremner
Neil Findlay repeatedly raised concerns about care home discharges in the Scottish Parliament pic: Fraser Bremner

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Mr Findlay said the gathering of MSPs at Holyrood this morning to hear tributes to the Duke of Edinburgh following his death on Friday offered an unexpected opportunity for MSPs to hold ministers to account over one of the most controversial aspects of the Scottish Government's handling of the Covid crisis.

But his request for the session to be extended to allow questioning of Ms Freeman and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was turned down by presiding officer Ken Macintosh.

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Mr Findlay said: "We are having this recall – people can give their tributes to the Duke, we should then have a break and return in the afternoon."

Last week Ms Freeman told a BBC podcast with Nick Robinson: "The early predictions about the number of people going into hospital were terrifying, but we didn't take the right precautions to make sure that older people leaving hospital and going into care homes were as safe as they could be, and that was a mistake.

"I might argue we couldn't do anything other than we did. But it still created a real problem for those older people and for the others who lived in care homes and for the staff who worked in care homes."

Mr Findlay repeatedly raised concerns about discharges to care homes at the time.

He said: "They kept claiming they were clinical decisions and they were acting on advice – they were always passing the buck. We were criticised for having the audacity to raise it.

"We have now passed 10,000 deaths in Scotland - a monumentally grim milestone - and for a year we have had denial that the government had any responsibility for care home discharges.

“Now, once parliament is in recess, the Health Secretary finally admits their role in this and we have a perfect opportunity to hold the government to account and that's being denied to MSPs. It's outrageous."

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