by Noah Khogali
The Coronavirus chapter is beginning to draw to a close.
The cards are down and governments must prepare to be judged. In Scotland, the SNP must ready themselves to deal with the shambles that has been the Scottish Covid-19 response and realise that they simply cannot keep the media persona of success up for ever. At some point they must address the stream of abject failures that have characterised the Scottish Covid-19 response.
The people of Scotland deserved better than to be the world’s 3rd worst hit country. At first glance, Scotland should have been in a good place coming into this crisis - a sparsely populated country bankrolled by the financial might of the UK and regularly injected with generous lump sums from Westminster in addition to its own revenues. Yet, 13 years of negligent SNP leadership have left Scotland with a floundering, flailing NHS with hospitals that are literally crumbling away and a distinct lack of competent leadership within the SNP Cabinet and the higher echelons of the party. It would be naive to think that this hasn’t exacerbated Scotland’s 4,000 person death toll.
The SNP response was doomed to failure from the beginning as they failed to even contact-trace the spouse of Scotland’s first Covid-19 death. This was just the start of a catalogue of tracing mistakes that undoubtedly cost Scots their lives. Nine weeks into the Covid crisis, the Scottish Government had failed to sign up a single contact tracer for weeks after opening applications, despite close to 10,000 applications sitting in seemingly unmonitored email inboxes. Upon being approached by the chief executive of St Andrews First Aid Charity, Stuart Callison, offering his Charity’s support, the Scottish Government ignored his offer for over a week before directing the support of his skilled workforce to the same email address as the general public. This is allegedly also part of the reason that the lockdown was extended in Scotland, further damaging people’s already faltering livelihoods.
In a further damnation of their planning ability, it has also come to light that the Scottish Government was aware of the potential PPE crisis in Scottish hospitals as far back as 2015. In May, almost half of Scotland’s nurses operating in ‘high risk’ environments were instructed to reuse PPE strictly intended for single use, putting them at extraordinary, yet avoidable risk.
The Nike Conference failure is potentially the most damning indictment of the Scottish Government’s actions throughout this crisis. Not only did they fail to inform the public of the potential of a large-scale outbreak in Scotland’s capital at the beginning of the crisis, but they also seemingly failed to contact dozens of individuals who had been in close proximity with those at the conference. Furthermore, it is alleged that they hid it from COBRA whilst simultaneously complaining publicly that Westminster was failing to communicate properly with them. It is also suspected that at least one of the 24 individuals infected at the Nike Conference was ‘patient 0’ in an area of North East England, a deeply ironic occurrence considering SNP rhetoric in regards to cross border infections of late. These are the hallmarks of incompetent governance that has undoubtedly cost people their lives and their
loved ones. Instead of pointing south, as seems to be the go to tactic, the SNP must take responsibility for their failures.
Over the past few months, the SNP has stood by and done little to mitigate the 2,000 deaths in Scottish Care homes. By mid June, beyond the peak of the pandemic, barely 33% of Scottish Care home staff had been tested, with the number for care home residents barely pushing half. In an even more damning indictment of the Scottish Government’s handling of the crisis in care homes, according to Scottish Government guidance in May, it was deemed acceptable for some Scottish care workers to finish their shift after testing positive with Covid-19, putting their colleagues and patients at risk. In May, Scotland’s care home deaths accounted for 43% (now closer to 50%) of the total toll, double that of England with 24% (which has been generally accepted as an abysmal failure of policy). The SNP has dysmally failed those most vulnerable in society throughout this pandemic and must be held to account.
The Scottish Government must be held to account for their actions and not be allowed to deflect south, as is the SNP’s favoured tactic. When future generations look back at Scotland during this pandemic, they will see countless lives lost due to SNP negligence. Freeman must see her role as Health Secretary revoked and Sturgeon must be made to realise that no amount of slick media appearances will ever make up for the loss of life that she has failed to prevent.