Scottish Government vows to make sure unlawful care home moves 'do not happen again'

The Scottish Government has vowed to make sure the unlawful movement of patients from hospitals to care homes will not happen again.

The government has “made mistakes” and will “learn lessons” from the pandemic in relation to care homes, Kevin Stewart, the new Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care told MSPs on Thursday.

It comes after a report from the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland which analysed the move of around 450 patients between hospitals to care homes in the early stages of the pandemic.

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It found that 20 of those moves, of patients who did not have the capacity to give consent, were unlawful.

Between March 1 and May 31 2020, 5,204 patients were discharged from NHS hospitals to care homes.Between March 1 and May 31 2020, 5,204 patients were discharged from NHS hospitals to care homes.
Between March 1 and May 31 2020, 5,204 patients were discharged from NHS hospitals to care homes.

The “disappointing” findings exposed “endemic examples of poor practice”, in Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) around the country, the commission said, some of which pre-dated the pandemic.

It also estimated that many more patients may have been unlawfully moved.

In response to an urgent question from Conservative MSP Sue Webber, Mr Stewart promised to write to all HSCPs to “make sure that this does not happen again”.

He added: “I would point out to the chamber that this took place during the point where we were seeing horrific pictures from Italy of coronavirus going rampant, and clinicians believed that the best possible outcomes for patients at that time was to move them out of hospital settings.

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"That should have been done following legal process, we will look at all of that, and ensure that that does not happen again.”

Ms Webber accused the Scottish Government of a failure to protect Scotland's most vulnerable people, both in unlawful moves and in the movement into care homes of patients who had tested positive for Covid-19.

Mr Stewart said: “During the course of the pandemic, the priority of the government was to save lives. As been said previously in this chamber by many of my ministerial colleagues, we were facing the unknown in some regards, and as has been said, we have made some mistakes.

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“This government is always made it clear that we will have a public inquiry into all of this, and that will happen."

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