SNP Scotland: Hospital Patients Discharged Into Care Homes Unlawfully, Report Finds

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Hospital patients were unlawfully discharged into care homes in Scotland, which experienced a disproportionate loss of life during the coronavirus pandemic.

The revelations come following an investigation by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, a statutory body which “monitor[s] the Mental Health (Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 and the welfare parts of the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000”, among other duties.

For its report, titled Authority to Discharge, the Commission took a 457-patients sample of the thousands of people who were discharged from hospitals into care homes in the early stages of the pandemic, often without being tested, and found that a score of them were unlawful, spanning 11 separate Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) areas across Scotland.

“Lack of understanding of the law, lack of understanding of good practice, confusion over the nature of placements, misunderstanding over power of attorney. These findings are very disappointing and may mean that many more moves were made without valid legal authority,” lamented Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland chief executive Julie Paterson in comments reported by the Telegraph.

The report follows Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland’s devolved government — roughly equivalent to a state government in the U.S. — and leader of the left-separatist Scottish National Party (SNP), responding to a BBC report suggesting that she had admitted discharging hospital patients into care home was a mistake by saying: “What I said is that with the benefit of knowledge we have now (but did not have then), it was a mistake. But too many people in care homes died and we must be candid about that.”
The First Minister did not explain how discharging untested hospital patients into care homes during a pandemic being a possible vector for viral spread in care homes was not foreseeable, however.

Responding to the Mental Welfare Commission report, a spokesman for Sturgeon’s government, quoted by the Scotsman, said that “Any decisions taken with respect to adults lacking capacity – which are made by health and social care professionals in consultation with the individual or their families and representatives independently of ministers – should put their rights, will and preference first and foremost.

“The Scottish Government is working with Health and Social Care Partnerships to improve the process, so that frail, older people do not have to spend any longer than necessary in hospital, while ensuring discharges are lawful. We will also continue to engage with Health and Social Care Partnerships to share good practice.”

The question of whether or not anyone will or should face actual consequences for the fact that people were unlawfully discharged into care homes during a pandemic does not appear to be getting addressed.

Jackie Baillie, spokeswoman on healthcare for the Scottish Labour Party, said that “The discharge of untested patients into care homes was scandalous and fanned the flames of the virus” and that “”We already know that this dangerous practice led to many deaths and breached the human rights of those in our care homes.”

“We need an immediate, Scotland-specific inquiry into the government’s failures during the pandemic,” she demanded.

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