First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said there is no “statistical evidence” that hospital discharges led to COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes in Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon was speaking following the publication of a Public Health Scotland report on the impact of hospital discharges during the pandemic.
“The analysis does not find statistical evidence that hospital discharges of any kind were associated with care home outbreaks,” she said.
“Nothing in it detracts from the tragedy of the deaths that have occurred in care homes over the course of the pandemic, and nothing ever will detract from the heartbreak of those bereaved.”
The PHS report found 78 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 were discharged into care homes between 1 March and 21 April. Only 650 of 3,599 elderly patients discharged during the period were tested.
The report said that care home size had the strongest association with COVID-19 outbreaks even when taking account of hospital discharges and other factors such as care home type, in line with findings observed by Public Health Wales in a similar report.
PHS found that while hospital discharge is associated with an increased risk of an outbreak when considered on its own, the estimated risk of an outbreak was reduced and not statistically significant after accounting for care home size and other care home features.
Of the care homes with more than 90 residents, 90.2% had an outbreak, compared with just 3.7% of homes with fewer than 20 residents.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “The data from this report gives us a better understanding of the impact of discharges on outbreaks in care homes. We will be taking forward the recommendations that PHS make in their report, and we will continue to adapt our guidance and the steps we are taking to protect care home staff and residents in line with the latest data, scientific evidence and clinical advice.”