SNP to be scrutinised as inquiry to be held into COVID-19 approach – ‘It’s vital!’

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MSPs will hold an inquiry into the Scottish Parliament’s working practices during the coronavirus pandemic with a view to making permanent changes to its rules. It will also look into the Parliament’s ability to scrutinise the work of the Scottish Government in the context of COVID-19.

It comes amid mounting pressure on Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government over their commitment to the pandemic.

Bill Kidd MSP, Holyrood’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee convenor, said: “The past seven months have seen extraordinary changes to the working practices of the Scottish Parliament – changes that had to be made urgently through absolute necessity.

“This inquiry will seek to evaluate the effectiveness of Holyrood’s recent working practices and review our capacity to scrutinise the government and to hold it to account during this time of crisis.

“Our intention will be to make procedural recommendations that promote the future resilience of the Parliament.”

Patrick Harvie MSP, co-leader of the Scottish Greens and deputy convenor, said: “Having the opportunity to scrutinise the government of the day and hold it to account is vital.

“It’s important, therefore, we look back on the last seven months and learn from that experience what worked well, what should be replicated and what can be improved upon as a Parliament.”

At the same time, opposition politicians and business leaders have called on Nicola Sturgeon to commit to holding a public inquiry following a number of controversial decisions.

Richard Leonard called on ministers to ensure that any COVID-19 inquiry in Scotland investigates decisions to send students to university campuses during the pandemic on the basis of human rights.

The decision led to outbreaks across Scottish Universities including Glasgow and Dundee.

Mr Leonard said: “In spite of evidence suggesting that it was not safe, the Scottish government gave universities the green light to bring all students back to campuses.

“They have faced shambolically confusing guidance, unacceptable and avoidable anxieties, and a regime of disproportionately punitive rules.”

Robert Kilgour, Renaissance Care executive chairman, added that a “swift inquiry” was needed now.

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It comes after figures showed that Scottish health boards transferred patients with COVID-19 into care homes during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Scottish Government had confirmed 1,431 untested patients were moved to care homes between March 1 and April 21 before testing of new care home admissions became mandatory.

But it was also revealed that at least 37 potentially infectious people in hospitals who tested positive for COVID-19 were still discharged into care homes.

Mr Kilgour said: “There is a bit of a concern that history could repeat itself. I’ve been calling on the Scottish Government since June, saying this is the time for a lesson learned review so we can put some of the lessons learned into action now and save lives.

“As we enter winter we need a swift inquiry – looking at everything from testing staff, discharging hospital patients and asymptomatic testing – so we can look at what we can do differently.”

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

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