Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP asked the First Minister today to release specific data on people entering care homes in March and April.
Following the exchange he wrote the below letter reiterating his request for a breakdown of destinations on discharge of patients throughout March and April.
Alex Cole-Hamilton commented:
"This information is not yet out in the open. It’s reasonable to ask if the government was absolutely sure that people discharged from hospitals into Scotland's care homes throughout this crisis were not bringing the virus with them.
"While we’ve had details about how this situation was handled in February we now need that granular detail about the waves of people leaving hospital for care homes in March and April. We need to know specific numbers, how many went into homes before mandatory testing and how many were guaranteed to be virus free by means of a Covid negative test result.
"Colleagues across the chamber have joined me in calling on the Health Secretary to publish these. The First Minister gave us an outline today but she needs to share the specifics. We need complete transparency. These statistics will prove critical to understanding the root of the catastrophe in our care sector."
The text of the letter can be found below:
Dear First Minister
I write, further to our exchange at First Ministers Questions this afternoon. I asked you about Neil Findlay’s written question (S5W-28655) asking for a breakdown of destinations on discharge and the current status of those patients released from hospital on every day of this crisis since 1st February. The answer published by the cabinet secretary for health this morning was very detailed and indicated that according to the delayed discharge census, in the month of February, 29% of patients in need of social care had been discharged to care homes. The answer covered discharge for every day in February alone and did not cover those months when a concerted effort to discharge patients from hospital in anticipation of the crisis took place. It also did not include the current life-status of those patients.
I asked you in FMQs as to why the data for those crucial months of March and April was not included in that written answer. In your response you referred to an answer from the cabinet secretary to Miles Briggs in the chamber yesterday in which she stated and I quote from the official report:
As of last week, the percentage of delayed discharge patients going to care homes was 38 per cent, so 62 per cent of people who were discharged from hospital went to their own homes with appropriate social care packages.
The differential between the February figure of 29% and the figure of 38% stated by the cabinet secretary would suggest that the numbers discharged to care homes in those key months of high infection in March and April was significantly higher than normal. The point is, that without the detail offered to Neil Findlay for February, we have no means of understanding the actual of numbers of people discharged from hospital in these critical months. Can I ask that you to supply me with a similar breakdown from the delayed discharge census for every day of March and April as that given in answer to Neil Findlay.
Can I press you also for an answer to his question as to the current life-status of those individuals discharged from hospital into care homes during those months and finally can I ask you to go further and provide a breakdown for the exact number of those discharged to care homes without a covid-negative test result obtained prior to their release from hospital, during that time.
I look forward to your reply.