The Scottish Tories have accused ministers of spinning a report into hospital discharges to care homes, a claim the Health Secretary has branded “nonsense”.
Last year, Public Health Scotland released a report on the number of people discharged to care homes and their Covid-19 status.
It showed more than 100 patients were moved to care homes after a positive test was returned in the early part of the pandemic, but it stated such discharges of patients were “not statistically significant”.
The Scottish Government at the time said those decisions were made by clinicians.
The Tories say a freedom of information request they made shows special advisers and press officers in the Scottish Government planned the communications strategy six days before the release of the report.
The party has accused ministers of trying to downplay the report, by highlighting the “not statistically significant” finding.
Tory health spokesman Donald Cameron said: “SNP spin is contaminating Scottish public life but even by their cynical standards, this is shocking.
“Is there no subject too important or sensitive that the SNP spin machine is not willing to bend and manipulate? It seems not from these revelations.
“Grieving families who lost loved ones in care homes were desperate to see this report but it kept on being delayed.
“Now we find out that the SNP were hard at work spinning a response to downplay the report’s findings on transferring Covid-positive patients into care homes.
“That sums up the SNP’s attitude towards the scandal in our care homes. They’re putting spin before honesty, transparency and common decency.
“This was a time for contrition and serious leadership from the SNP. Instead of finding out what really happened with an urgent public inquiry, they worked up a detailed plan of how to spin the story.
“That is a complete dereliction of duty towards our most vulnerable.”
But Health Secretary Jeane Freeman hit back at the Tories during the coronavirus briefing on Friday, describing their claims as “absolute nonsense”.
She added: “We did not spend any time trying to spin anything – remember this is an independent report, independent of Government and with academics from both Glasgow and Edinburgh universities.
“The report says what the report says and we have been very clear in our response to that report and very clear in what we believe should be done and how we should act going forward.
“If people want to make political capital or attempt to make political capital out of this then that is their prerogative, but I think it is much more serious than that.
“I take the safety of our residents and our staff in care homes much more seriously than that and as for that claim, I don’t have anything more to say about it – it is nonsense.”