Ministers say they will use inquiry to inform responses better in future
Age Scotland has welcomed plans to hold a public inquiry into Scotland’s handling of the pandemic.
The announcement follows pressure from relatives of some who have died.
The inquiry will scrutinise decisions that were taken over the course of the crisis, with the aim of learning lessons for any future pandemics.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon had previously said her preference was for a UK-wide inquiry to be held.
But prime minister Boris Johnson told MPs in May that an independent public inquiry examining the handling of the pandemic across all four UK nations would not begin until the spring of next year, despite Sturgeon calling for it to start this year.
The charity was among leading organisations who urged the Scottish Government to establish such an inquiry earlier this year, and says the plans should help provide clarity over the challenges faced by older people as the country responded to Covid-19 and whether enough was done to uphold rights during this period.
Age Scotland’s Chief Executive, Brian Sloan, said: “We have repeatedly stressed the importance of a public inquiry of this kind and are very glad to see The Scottish Government setting out plans to make this a reality.
“We welcome that the inquiry will take a person-centred, human rights based approach to investigation. Involving those with lived experience and welcoming feedback from the public during these initial planning stages will help underpin credibility.
“Since the pandemic began, we’ve heard first-hand the devastating impact it has had on older people.
“There are still many unanswered questions over why certain decisions were taken, and how their rights may have been impacted as a result - from the inappropriate application of DNAR orders and access to fair and equal medical treatment to the longer-term effects of lockdown restrictions on health and wellbeing.
“Getting answers is crucial, especially for the families and loved ones of the those who have sadly lost their lives.
“We’ve also spoken in the past about how the impact of Covid-19 on care homes, and social care more generally, must play a key role in investigation into Scotland’s handling of the pandemic. The virus has taken a heavy toll on residents, their families, and staff, and we are glad to see this mentioned as an area of particular focus.
“Today’s announcement is an important step towards reflecting on actions taken during the pandemic and how they impacted people in Scotland.
“This opportunity to identify and learn from mistakes to ensure they are never repeated must be grasped with both hands, and we look forward to seeing work begin to take this inquiry further forward.”
Campaigners from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group said a separate Scottish inquiry was needed to examine decisions made by the devolved Scottish government, and to hold it to account.