Scotland should hold its own public inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic by the end of the year, the Scottish Government has confirmed. The announcement follows pressure from the families of some who have died.
The inquiry will review decisions taken during the crisis, with the aim of teaching lessons for any future pandemic.
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon had previously said her preference would be for a UK-wide inquiry to be held.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MEPs in May that an independent public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic across all four UK nations would not begin until the spring of next year, despite Ms Sturgeon launching it this year.
Campaigns from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group said a separate Scottish inquiry was needed to investigate decisions of the devolved Scottish government, and to hold it accountable. Deputy Prime Minister John Swinney met with representatives of the group shortly before the announcement was made. Nearly 10,500 deaths have been recorded in Scotland where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate since the pandemic began. The Scottish Government is inviting people to give their opinion on the objectives and principles of the public inquiry by 30 September.
It also examines “events that cause public concern”, for example the high number of deaths in nursing homes, and examines the explanations of the decisions that have been made and the causes of “everything that may not have gone as expected”.
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon and former Health Secretary Jeane Freeman both admitted that the way seniors were discharged from hospitals and nursing homes at the start of the pandemic was a mistake.
More than 1,300 elderly people were sent to nursing homes before a robust test regime was in place.
Ms Sturgeon told her Covid briefing on Tuesday: “The inquiry looks at all issues related to the handling of the pandemic that are within our devolved competence.
“This will of course include the situation in our nursing homes.”
She stressed that the Scottish Government was “closely” in contact with the UK Government and the other involved administrations on the likely terms of a UK-wide inquiry to “avoid duplication and duplication”.