New Lothian MSP makes Holyrood debut with question on care homes

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Newly-elected Lothian Tory MSP Susan Webber made her debut in the Scottish Parliament calling for an immediate public inquiry into what happened in care homes early in the Covid pandemic.

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Asking an urgent question on report by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland’s showing unlawful transfers of adults with incapacity from hospitals to care homes at the start of the pandemic, she highlighted criticism of “endemic poor practice” and confusion over the legal rights of those involved.

She said: “Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly called for an immediate public inquiry into what happened in care homes and despite cross-party support in this parliament the government have repeatedly refused to carry one out. So will they finally listen to parliament and conduct an immediate public inquiry so families of residents can finally get the answers they deserve?”

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Susan Webber made her debut in the Scottish ParliamentSusan Webber made her debut in the Scottish Parliament
Susan Webber made her debut in the Scottish Parliament
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Meet the five new MSPs just elected for Edinburgh and the Lothians

Kevin Stewart minister for mental wellbeing and social care, said the priority of the government had been to save lives and it had acknowledged it had made mistakes. “This government has always made it clear we will have a public inquiry into all of this and that will happen. All that has gone before us will be looked at and lessons learned. But members have got to understand the particular challenges we were at the very initial stages of the pandemic where clinicians gave their advice and we followed it.”

Mr Stewart offered a meeting with Ms Webber to discuss matters in more detail and she accepted it.

The Mental Welfare Commssion report highlighted that 20 of 457 moves from hospital to care homes had been made unlawfully, without the consent of the patient, including patients in Edinburgh and West Lothian. The sample included 48 people from Edinburgh, 17 from West Lothian, 8 from Midlothian and 10 from East Lothian.

Ms Webber said: “Looking back at how the SNP ministers dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic, the transfer of hospital patients to care homes without testing, was by far their biggest failure.

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“We have now learned that at least 20 of these transfers were made unlawfully. This decision to move over 100 Covid-positive patients to care homes undoubtedly cost lives and we must ensure this never happens again.”

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