Scottish Govt 'had no plan in place' to manage Covid-19 pandemic

  • Video report by Matty Sutton

The Scottish Government 'had no plan in place' specifically to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, Scotland's public spending watchdog has found.

Findings from Audit Scotland show the Government based its initial response to Covid-19 on the UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy, published in 2011.

In the years before the coronavirus outbreak, the report says the country took part in 'three pandemic preparedness exercises'. But not all the actions identified were fully implemented.

Audit Scotland says this included measures to ensure access to enough PPE and to quickly address social care capacity - both of which, they say, became 'significant' issues during the first wave of the pandemic.

While the report praises the government’s fast response to the coronavirus outbreak, it states that the Scottish Government “could have been better prepared to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic” and lessons must be learned.

Scotland's Health Secretary Jeane Freeman. Credit: PA

Commenting on the findings, Auditor General for Scotland,Stephen Boyle, said: "NHS staff have shown extraordinary commitment to treating and caring for Scotland's people during a pandemic that has highlighted the need to deal with long-standing health inequalities.

"Getting the full range of health services back up and running will be challenging. But there are clear lessons to be learned from the pandemic, both in how the country could have been better prepared and in the innovation that we've seen. It's essential that these advances are now retained and built upon."

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said the Scottish Government will consider the report’s findings carefully. She said: "As Audit Scotland acknowledge, the COVID-19 pandemic was caused by a new disease with unknown characteristics, and like governments around the world, we have had to respond rapidly to the emergence of an entirely new public health threat."

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