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The Scottish Government is accused of spending days preparing how to 'spin' a report into elderly Covid-positive patients being transferred to care homes but health secretary Jeane Freeman rubbishes the claims

By Scott Maclennan

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MSP Donald Cameron.
MSP Donald Cameron.
MSP Donald Cameron.
MSP Donald Cameron.

The Scottish Government has been accused by the Conservatives of spending almost a week plotting how to spin a damning report into elderly Covid-positive patients being transferred to care homes.

The claims have been denied by health secretary Jeane Freeman who labelled the allegations as “nonsense.”

But a freedom of information request revealed the SNP spent days working on how to “translate into English” a line claiming the link between discharging elderly patients from hospitals to care homes “not statistically significant.”

The Office for Statistics Regulation has already slammed the presentation of the Public Health Scotland report, including a line that there was no statistical evidence that hospital discharges caused care home outbreaks of Covid-19.

The information provided by Public Health Scotland to journalists has also been called into question after the government got the findings of the report days earlier while reporters were given just 15 minutes to look over probe.

Highland MSP and Conservative shadow health secretary, Donald Cameron, said:“SNP spin is contaminating Scottish public life but even by their cynical standards, this is shocking.

"Is there no subject too important or sensitive that the SNP spin machine is not willing to bend and manipulate? It seems not from these revelations.

"Grieving families who lost loved ones in care homes were desperate to see this report but it kept on being delayed.

“Now we find out that the SNP were hard at work spinning a response to downplay the report’s findings on transferring Covid-positive patients into care homes.

“That sums up the SNP’s attitude towards the scandal in our care homes. They're putting spin before honesty, transparency and common decency.

"This was a time for contrition and serious leadership from the SNP. Instead of finding out what really happened with an urgent public inquiry, they worked-up a detailed plan of how to spin the story.

“That is a complete dereliction of duty towards our most vulnerable.”

Ms Freeman said: “We did not spend any time trying to spin anything. Remember, this is an independent report, independent of government and with academics from both Glasgow and Edinburgh University.

“The report says what the report says and we have been very clear in our response to that report and very clear in what we believe should be done and how we should act going forward and the steps that we have taken over many months to try and ensure we have what is now, in effect, seven layers of protection around care homes and the residents of care homes.

“Now, if people want to make political capital or attempt to make political capital out of this, that is their prerogative but I think it is much more serious than that. I take the safety of our residents and staff in care homes much more seriously than that.”

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