AT the latest First Minister's Questions Jackson Carlaw and Richard Leonard again lined up in apparent support of private care home bosses to hypocritically criticise the First Minister and the Scottish Government for essentially following a UK-wide approach of accelerated early discharge from hospitals ahead of an anticipated huge spike of NHS patients suffering from Covid-19 ("Sturgeon in firing line as testing fails to meet targets, The Herald, June 4).

This approach resulted, on the advice of clinicians, in "healthy" elderly returning to their homes, or care homes, or in some instances being admitted to care homes under strict government guidelines. It has seemingly not yet been determined if any patients who were not showing symptoms and were not tested prior to return or admission to care homes were sources of infection into any care homes, but it is suspected that care staff moving in and out of these homes were more likely sources (especially as some were reluctant to self-isolate out of fear of losing their basic income).

In the meantime the grim toll of recorded UK coronavirus deaths has climbed to 51,441 (39,728 + 11,713, Office for National Statistics, May 22), and is nearing 65,000 when "excess deaths" are objectively apportioned, but it appears that there are still many, not only blinkered or insincere politicians, who are in denial about the dire performance of the UK Government.

A decade of austerity and refusals to "follow expert advice" and prepare properly for a future pandemic resulted in NHS boards and social care services across the UK being in a perilous state at the start of this year. Scotland, with limited economic and welfare powers and no control over its borders, has managed relatively better than England overall in experiencing significantly fewer coronavirus-related mortalities, but still tragically more poorly than similarly-populated independent countries across the world. From Norway and Slovakia to Singapore and New Zealand, irrespective of their economic fundamentals, mortality rates of "small countries" have generally been less than one-tenth of the rate in Scotland which equates to thousands of lives effectively "saved".

This “UK Dividend” has been a catastrophe for Scotland, and it is not yet the end of the unfolding Covid-19 story, with the advice of experts again being ignored by an aloof and arrogant UK Government.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.

NICOLA Sturgeon is simply driving all her problems into the long grass. The standard SNP solution to all these types of issue is to announce an inquiry or a review. This covers the immediately required response but provides little else.

Inquiries take forever, as is currently the case with the Edinburgh trams fiasco, and are designed to report only once those responsible are either out of power or nearly so. The same will happen with both the Nike conference problem and that of the care homes.

Politicians might announce they will make mistakes but they rarely take actual responsibility for these mistakes, just vague promises to look into the matter or, particularly in the case of the SNP, look to pass the blame on elsewhere. Is it any surprise therefore that nothing ever really gets solved in a timely manner?

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow G77.

As I write, we are approaching 74 days of wearisome lockdown. 74 long days during which the Scottish and UK governments have struggled to deal with a virus which most other European nations had under control after about 40 days.

They claim constantly that they are “following the science”. Might I suggest that they get rid of the scientists they are so faithfully following and replace them with those from Europe who would seem to have a far greater grasp of what needs to be done to get us out of the sorry mess that we find ourselves in?

Dave Henderson, Glasgow G12.

I HAVE been following the claims of the Scottish Government, and no less the UK Government, concerning the efficiency of their testing procedures, with interest.

One of the current claims is the efficiency and speed of reporting. My personal experience is somewhat different.

On Saturday May 2, as an over-70-year-old retired NHS doctor with symptoms, I investigated online my eligibility for Covid testing. I was pleased to be offered an appointment for the following day at a testing centre at Edinburgh Airport, Dunoon, or (I think), Perth. My home address was Glasgow. I selected Edinburgh Airport and was driven there the following day. The test was carried out very efficiently, and I was told to expect a result by text or email within 48 hours; however, under exceptional circumstances it might take up to five days.

On the sixth day, having heard nothing, I telephoned the registration telephone number on my receipt. I spoke to a very helpful lady who said she would "flag it up for the NHS, and I should check my email". She was unable to provide further information. I emailed the Scottish Health Secretary, who, to her credit ,replied the same day. Her answer was "It’s not our fault": ie that this was nothing to do with the Scottish Government, as two separate testing schemes were in operation, and the Edinburgh Airport testing centre was under the auspices of the UK scheme and tests were carried out at the Lighthouse labs. She did offer to have her team look into my result, but because of the time lag and my improving symptom, I felt this was not required

Four weeks later, a couple of days ago, I received an email from the Scottish Covid-Extended Testing Programme, once again saying "It’s not our fault". They provided a telephone number to call.

I have yet to receive a result for my Covid test, but am not pursuing this further as I am aware that at this stage a further test would be meaningless and antibody tests are not yet deemed reliable.

Mary Watson, Glasgow G12.

COULD someone please treat us like adults and explain exactly what's happening. Government figures show that numbers in ICU are down by 85 per cent compared to the height of the pandemic; deaths down by 90 per cent (although still too many); and crucially, new infections down by 90% to an average of 30 or so a day, this latter figure akin to levels in South Korea (albeit a much larger country). Yet on Saturday my wife and I with family (separate cars) set off for a much-longed-for picnic and despite our best intentions I confess we ended up going a wee bit more than five miles to find a parking space.

We parked responsibly, socially distanced, took rubbish home, and did all the right things. Yet Nicola Sturgeon is making me feel like a criminal, which makes no sense if infections since phase 1 unlocking are 30 or so per day. Or are daily new infections much higher than this and we're being kept in the dark? We should be told accurately how many daily new infections, and where the infection hotspots are, so we can avoid those areas if able to, allowing us to make informed decisions benefitting ourselves and those who live there.

Scott Macintosh, Killearn.

CAN someone somewhere please clarify and explain the logic of the so-called lockdown rules to me as they now pertain to Scotland.

It seems that I can now welcome a team of carpet fitters and potential house buyers into my home even at the same time, but my immediate family are forbidden to enter.

James Devine, Bishopbriggs.

Read more: Letters: Care home crisis is a symptom of NHS malaise