Politics

Scottish Government should appoint dedicated minister to tackle Covid-19 crisis in care homes, say Tories

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said Nicola Sturgeon should have appointed a minister to lead the care sector’s response to Covid-19.

Jackson Carlaw made the demand after official figures revealed the number of coronavirus deaths in care homes in Scotland has now overtaken those in hospital.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman will today answer questions from MSPs on how the virus was able to cause such a devastating impact on the sector, which is largely privately run.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Carlaw said: “If we are going to get on top of this virus, we need to do better.

“In our care homes, we should have appointed a cabinet secretary with complete responsibility for the care home sector, and redeployed officials.

“It must be an absolute requirement that we get in touch with everyone of these care homes.

“We need to deliver on the promise that was made over two weeks ago to test everybody in those care homes – that was the Scottish Government’s commitment.”

Freeman announced on May 18 that workers in the care sector would have access to testing regardless of whether or not there has been a confirmed case at their workplace.

But opposition parties have said there were still not enough tests being done in Scotland each day for that to have happened.

Asked if too much attention was being paid to the numbers of tests – instead of the reasons for testing – Carlaw said: “I’m looking at research which shows Scotland’s relative position, both on the number of people tested, and the number of tests carried out, and on either measure, we have one of the worst levels of performance anywhere in the world.”

The First Minister said yesterday that all the figures on care home testing would be published once “robust and reliable” stats were available, and insisted testing was now underway as a matter of routine.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, she said: “Care home deaths, while still too high, declining quite rapidly. We also see from the peak to the middle of May that care home deaths are declining slightly faster than deaths in hospitals.

“I say that as it suggests the package of measures we are taking in care homes is having an effect.”



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