Thursday, 17 Jun 2021

‘Shameful!’ SNP cover-up exposed as ‘true data’ on care home horror concealed from public

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The Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) ruled National Records of Scotland (NRS) used arguments that were “speculative in nature” to avoid publishing the data. It concluded the NRS had “failed to comply” with legislation on freedom of information.

In response, the Scottish Conservatives have demanded a full public inquiry into the scandal.

The NRS argued it didn’t need to disclose data due to data protection issues.

However the Information Commissioner ruled this only applies to living people and doesn’t cover those who died in the pandemic.

Later the NRS said disclosing the data would commercially damage some care home operators.

This was also rejected by the Information Commissioner which said there is a “strong public interest” for the data to be disclosed.

They said this was necessary to “ensure that older people and their relatives have the necessary information to make an informed decision when choosing a care home or care home provider”.

Opposition parties in Holyrood are demanding a public inquiry into the failure to disclose.

Craig Hoy, the Scottish Tory Shadow Social Care Minister, commented: “This latest revelation will appal the thousands of families grieving the loss of a loved one who died in Scotland’s care homes.

“There was blatantly an attempt to sweep the true scale of the scandal under the carpet.

“It is truly shocking that an SNP Government agency believed it was appropriate to try and stop the full picture surrounding care home deaths being made public.

“The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly called for an immediate public inquiry on care homes. This unlawful cover-up only makes the case for that urgent inquiry stronger.

“The SNP must investigate why this shocking act of secrecy happened and explain it before Parliament as soon as possible.”

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Similar sentiments were expressed by Anas Sarwar, who recently took over as head of the Scottish Labour party.

He said: “This is utterly shameful. The SNP Government breached legislation and kept the scale of care home deaths secret for eight months.

“This is another devastating blow for the care home residents and families who have been denied justice.

“Those responsible must be held accountable and lessons must be learned.

“We need a Scottish public inquiry without delay.”

Earlier this week the Scottish parliament re-elected Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister.

However the SNP fell short of a parliamentary majority in this month’s Holyrood elections.

They are still hoping to push through another independence referendum with help from the Greens.

Speaking to The Scotsman a National Records of Scotland spokesman said: “NRS continues to publish a range of information on COVID related mortality, including where the location of death is a care home.

“Our statistical analysis provides valuable information on characteristics of the deceased as well as presentation at health board and local authority level.

“Following review by the Scottish Information Commissioner of a freedom of information request to release data on individual care homes, NRS will make this data available in line with the original freedom of information request and the timeframe set out by the SIC.”
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