Tuesday, 19 May 2020

'Patient Confidentiality', My Arse (4)

The Scottish Government has shifted its position slightly on its failure to report the first outbreak of Covid-19 in Scotland which occurred back in February 2020.

Ministers still insist they were right not to alert the public for reasons of 'patient confidentiality', but they are now putting the blame on the same patients for failing to tell the authorities about other contacts who, unwittingly, would have gone on to spread the virus further.

Now it stands to reason that the job of extracting this information from patients infected with the virus is down to professionally trained 'contact tracers' who know how to ask the right questions about a person's movements during the period in question.

I certainly wouldn't blame the patients, especially if they had no reason for withholding such vital information from the public health authorities.

So I'm afraid that the Scottish Government's explanation doesn't stand up to scrutiny and it's quite reasonable to ask that the internal communications between ministers and public health officials should be released.    



Coronavirus in Scotland: Jeane Freeman puts blame on Nike event delegates

The event at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton was said to be Scotland’s “ground zero” where the first transmission took place - Photo: SNS GROUP

By Arthi Nachiappan - The Times

The health secretary has suggested that people at the centre of Scotland’s first coronavirus outbreak failed to tell the authorities about contacts that potentially spread it further.

It was reported yesterday that workers who shared a building with Nike in Glasgow and a kilt shop in Edinburgh, which fitted delegates at a conference for the sportswear company, were not told they had been in contact with carriers. Staff at both companies developed symptoms of Covid-19.

The Scottish government knew that 25 people who attended the event in February had tested positive, including eight in Scotland, but the public became aware of the outbreak only last week, through a BBC documentary. Ministers believe the event at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton was Scotland’s “ground zero”, where community transmission first happened.

David Hamilton, who runs a digital marketing business in Glasgow, said he and his staff had shared communal spaces in the building with Nike. Three staff were “certain” they had contracted the virus, he told the Scottish Mail on Sunday. Neither those workers nor those at a kilt hire shop who had fitted ten attendees were told by the health authorities that they had been in contact with potential coronavirus carriers.

The Times has learnt that staff and shoppers at a retail park where one of the individuals was said to work were also not informed by authorities.

George Alexander, a security manager at Craigleith retail park in Edinburgh, where Nike has a factory store, said he was made aware by one of the store managers shortly after the conference that a delegate was ill and staying at home to recover. Managers at the park, which has 16 other shops, had not been contacted by the health authorities about the outbreak.

“All of the contact we have received about this was from managers at the Nike store on the premises,” he said.

Jeane Freeman, the health secretary, rejected criticism that the government failed to follow protocol and said that success of the tracing process “relies on information from the individual”.

Ms Freeman said yesterday there had been “no failure in approach at all” and that contact tracing had been carried out. “All the proper clinically-led standard protocols were followed,” she said. “Contact tracing sits on the information that is given by the individual who is the trigger case. They are asked where they’ve been and who they’ve been in contact with.”

Contact is defined by the government as spending 15 or more minutes within a two-metre distance of someone infected with Covid-19. “If we are not told by someone all the contacts they’ve had, then we cannot trace,” Ms Freeman said.

Ian Murray, the shadow Scottish secretary and MP for Edinburgh South, said the response was a “woeful excuse” for ministerial failures.“The Scottish government still refuses to accept responsibility for this cover-up and its impact, with Jeane Freeman trying to point the finger of blame at those who attended,” he said. “The explanation by Ms Freeman is surely the very reason the public should have been told. If tracing is based on recall of everyone you have been in contact with then that’s ineffective, so you have to inform the wider public. Instead, the government chose to keep Scottish businesses and workers in the dark.”

Nike was approached for comment.

'Patient Confidentiality', My Arse! (3) (17/05/20)

Brian Wilson has his say in The Scotsman about the first known Covid-19 outbreak in Scotland which the Scottish Government failed to report at the time for reasons of 'patient confidentiality'.

Now Brian Wilson is a former Labour politician which means it's likely that what he has to say will be dismissed instantly by a certain section of the Scottish population.

But Wilson is also a former government minister, a director of Celtic Football Club and a business person - so I think it's important to weigh up what he has to say instead of immediately rejecting his views as 'highly politicised nonsense'.

Because I'm not a member or a supporter of any political party and, in the absence of a much more convincing explanation, I have to say I think the Scottish Government's defence of 'patient confidentiality' is completely bogus.  



Nicola Sturgeon must prove there was no Covid-19 cover-up

The revelations about the Nike conference in Edinburgh on 26-27 February, and its Covid-19 aftermath, cannot be wished away with a glib put-down.

By Brian Wilson - The Scotsman
The First Minister has faced questions this week over the reported outbreak in Edinburgh

Imagine Nike had held their conference in Carlisle and 70 guests took a trip across the Border. Then imagine one was found to have transmitted Covid-19 to another 25, providing by far the strongest intimation of the virus’s UK presence.

Let us further imagine UK ministers failed to inform the public of this outbreak of a disease, the deadliness of which was far from understood by the population at large.

When, ten weeks later, that revelation emerged through BBC television, howls of outrage would have been heard from Land’s End to John O’Groats – nowhere more feverishly than from the St Andrew’s House podium.

Rightly so. Whatever motivated the decision to maintain secrecy around the UK’s first mass outbreak of Covid-19, the need for it to be challenged and deeply, deeply regretted in the light of what transpired would be overwhelming.

But the outbreak occurred in Edinburgh and this is Scotland. So when it is finally brought into the public domain, the First Minister’s response is to deny there is anything remotely amiss, far less need for a “grown-up conversation”.

On the contrary. It is “highly politicised nonsense” to suggest otherwise. The thinnest veneer of an argument about “patient confidentiality” is sufficient. We are referred to a press release of 4 March, presumably assuming nobody will bother to look.

In fact, it contains not the slightest indication of what occurred in Edinburgh. The impression continued to be given that three cases had been identified in Scotland, two attributed to returns from Italy. In other words, that press release was highly misleading. Why? If Ms Sturgeon believes that the right to answers amounts to “highly politicised nonsense” then she is living in a bubble of impunity which is in urgent need of pricking.

Let me personalise this a little. On 8 March I attended the rugby at Murrayfield. As I wrote previously: “There was no public mood at this time that these events should be cancelled. So can we really blame politicians for not acting?”

In other words, I do not deal in wisdom after an event. The difference now is that nobody outside a magic circle knew such a dramatic event had occurred – and if they had, that knowledge would have been transformational. If I had known on 8 March there had been a mass outbreak of Covid-19 a few hundred yards up the road, I would not have been jostling with a pub-full of French rugby fans. I would not have been within a hundred miles and, anyway, the game would probably not have taken place.

I am not attracted to the argument that if this or that had been done, x thousand lives would have been saved. There are many imponderables and that is too heavy a burden to lay at any politician’s door.

What can be said with certainty, however, is that if the public had known of evidence on our doorstep that one individual had infected so many, the official response would have been vastly different – because public understanding would have been heightened so dramatically.

If there is some legitimate reason for having withheld that information, then let’s hear it.

In the fullness of time, the judicial inquiry into how Scotland has handled this pandemic will pursue the same question and many others. Jibes about “politicised nonsense” will not suffice.

And what now of Jason Leitch’s assertion on 11 March that he would cheerfully have gone to a concert with 12,000 people? It seemed odd at the time and is now incomprehensible, in the light of what had happened among 70 in Edinburgh.

In Scotland at present, we have an appalling care homes tragedy, an abysmal level of testing, with previous “targets” forgotten and now this revelation that the virus was among us before the public was allowed to know. These are circumstances that demand questions and answers which transcend politics but for which 
politicians must expect to be accountable – even in Scotland.

If It Walks Like A Duck - 'Patient Confidentiality', My Arse! (2) - 16 May 2020

Neil Mackay writing in The Herald takes a stick to the Scottish Government and argues that 'if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then almost certainly it is a duck'. 

I have to say I agree because there is no reason for the Scottish Government to have hidden behind a completely bogus argument about 'patient confidentiality' in failing to report Scotland's first Coronavirus outbreak back in February 2020.

Now I don't know Neil Mackay, but what I like about his  opinion pieces is that Neil is not afraid to speak out even though I suspect he's very broadly supportive of the SNP and the Scottish Government.

For example, while lots of SNP supporters were keeping their heads down over the lavish expenses claims of Glasgow's Lord Provost Neil wrote a hard-hitting column which dubbed Eva Bolander as Glasgow's Imelda Marcos (see post below dated 11/10/19). 

Read Neil Mackay's full article via the link below to The Herald.




Opinion: Neil Mackay: No matter how much Sturgeon denies it, the Edinburgh outbreak looks like a cover-up

By Neil Mackay - The Herald

NO matter how much the Scottish Government denies it, no matter how much bluster there is, it’s hard to see anything other than a cover-up when it comes to the coronavirus outbreak in Edinburgh at the end of February.

Here’s the order of events: the Scottish Government confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus on March 1. The case was in Tayside.

'Patient Confidentiality', My Arse (15/05/20)

The Scottish Government is getting a hard time over its 'patient confidentiality' defence a Coronavirus outbreak in Edinburgh back in February 2020.

Quite right too, if you ask me because there's an enormous  difference between reporting such information anonymously and releasing people's personal details.

Now I don't know about a 'cover-up', but I would say that SNP politicians are as bad as anyone else when it comes to freedom of information (FoI).

For example, my personal experience of FoI and SNP led Glasgow City Council is really no different to the the days when Scotland's largest council was Labour controlled.


Nicola Sturgeon denies claims of 'cover-up' over Edinburgh Covid-19 outbreak

By Alistair Grant - The Herald

Nicola Sturgeon denies claims of 'cover-up' over Edinburgh Covid-19 outbreak

NICOLA Sturgeon has dismissed claims she covered up a coronavirus outbreak in February as "complete and utter nonsense".

The First Minister said the incident at a conference for the sportswear brand Nike was kept from the public partly because of patient confidentiality.

But she insisted all appropriate steps were taken to protect public health and confirmed cases were included in official figures.

Scotland's first confirmed coronavirus case was in Tayside on March 1.

However the BBC reported an earlier outbreak hit a Nike conference at Edinburgh's Hilton Carlton Hotel on February 26 and 27.