Ms Sturgeon was questioned on the matter during today’s live coronavirus briefing by Channel 4 reporter Ciaran Jenkins. Pointing to the Care Inspectorate’s record of the number of suspected deaths from the disease in care homes, irrespective of what appears on deaths certificates, he stressed they therefore knew about deaths which had not appeared in the official count so far.
He added: “They tell us the Scottish Government has this data.
“So why are these figures not being published in Scotland?”
Ms Sturgeon said: “This is the best and most reliable way to publish these figures.
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“I can’t speak for the figures which are published elsewhere.
“But I am confident that the figures we are publishing here are statistics which are accurate about the people who die in way that is related to the virus, but also to the overall number of deaths.
“If there is any discrepancy between the two, people can see that transparently.
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“In the last two weeks, we have spoken about the need to further understand excess deaths that are not being attributed to COVID.”
More than 6,500 deaths involving coronavirus have occurred in England and Wales outside of hospital, official figures have shown.
Care homes notified the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which performs the same role as the Care Inspectorate south of the border, of 4,343 deaths of residents in homes between April 10 and 24 in England, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
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The publication marks the first time the CQC death notifications for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in care homes have been published.
Nick Stripe, head of health analysis at the Office for National Statistics (ONS), told the BBC: “There could be deaths that are happening in care homes that would ordinarily have been transferred to hospitals. So those care pathways might be being disrupted to some degree.
“It could also be that perhaps care home residents are getting what ostensibly appears like milder symptoms of COVID-19 but perhaps COVID-19, which is acting in strange ways in some cases, could be affecting their underlying health conditions.”
A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said: “Care services across Scotland are working tirelessly under very challenging circumstances to care for people.
“The Care Inspectorate is working closely with care providers, health and social care partnerships, care industry leaders and the Scottish Government to ensure services get the support they need during the pandemic. Part of that work includes asking services to notify us of suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 and of the deaths of service users.
“The purpose of these notifications is to enable us and our partners to direct help and support where it is needed. We share the general data from these notifications with the Scottish Government who are the primary publishers of data related to COVID-19 during the pandemic.
“We understand this is a really worrying time for people who experience care, their loved ones and families and for those who work in care. Our thoughts are with all those affected.”
Express.co.uk has approach the Scottish Government for further clarification about the situation.
Also today, Professor Hugh Pennington told Holyrood’s Health and Sport Committee it had been a “policy error” to move to the delay phase of the pandemic response so soon.
Prof Pennington said testing and tracing should have continued for longer.
The University of Aberdeen emeritus professor said a comprehensive testing regime should now be put in place by the Scottish Government to protect care homes and “keep the damn thing out”.
Prof Pennington said he believes the rate of infection in care homes could be as high as 10 times more than in the rest of the population due to an emphasis on social interaction before the lockdown.
Asked if there was one single message he would like the committee to relay to the Scottish Government, Prof Pennington referred to the WHO’s advice to “test, test, test”.
He added: “If we can get that message and get that testing really blasting away and get those facilities in research units working night and day, then we can sort this problem.”
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