The SNP Government spent almost a week plotting how to spin a damning report into Covid-positive patients being transferred to care homes. The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has previously criticised the presentation of the Public Health Scotland report, in particular the SNP pushing a line that there was not statistical evidence that hospital discharges caused care home outbreaks of Covid-19.
Now a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Scottish Conservatives has found that, while grieving families waited on the delayed report, the SNP Government spent days figuring out how to spin the misleading line that the transfer of Covid-positive patients was “not statistically significant.”
The FOI response also calls into question information provided by Public Health Scotland to journalists. They told press at the time that the Scottish Government received the findings of the report on “Monday 26 October”. But it has now been revealed that the SNP were working on spinning pivotal lines in the report days earlier.
Journalists were given just 15 minutes to look over the report before the First Minister’s daily briefing, where she pushed the misleading line that the report indicated there was not “statistical evidence” showing a link between Covid-positive discharges and outbreaks in care homes.
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary, Donald Cameron MSP, 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, here in the Highlands and Islands and across Scotland, 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.”
The OSR criticism is here: https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/scottish-news/6540615/care-home-covid-outbreaks-hopital-link/
Public Health Scotland issued a statement to press around the release of the report that “Key stakeholders, including Scottish Government, were given pre-release access to the Discharges from NHS Scotland Hospitals to Care Homes report on Monday 26 October.”