ON Thursday at Holyrood’s health committee the Health Secretary agreed with the question/assumption that “prevention failings with quality in infection, prevention, control in some care homes have led to cases of Covid” ("Concerns over care home infection controls", The Herald, June 5)

Having previously laid the bulk of the responsibility for infections on staff this latest statement seems to attack the operators of care homes in a setting where they are unable to respond.

The worrying aspect of this behaviour is that the Government seems to be leading with an agenda that it did not make any mistakes and the issues were the responsibility of others.

The simple fact is that the First Minister, the Health Secretary and others decided to clear hundreds of patients from hospitals in readiness for the expected overwhelming number of cases of Covid.

They are not alone in this – the other devolved administrations did likewise, as did NHS England.

Many countries round the world acted in similar ways.

Full and open inquiries after the event might well conclude that the decisions were reasonable at the time given what was known about the virus. It might be that any reasonable person in the place to make decisions would not have acted much differently.

It is critical, however, that we learn lessons from these events so that if we are faced with a similar situation in the future we will make better decisions.

That is simply not possible with an administration at Holyrood that reflexively takes no responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

Michael Kent, Giffnock.

STAN Grodynski (Letters, June 5) vigorously defends the Scottish Government's policy of accelerated discharge of elderly patients to care homes to free up hospital beds, in itself a good thing. But in so doing he very neatly diverts attention from the real issue here, which is that the accelerated discharge was done with a policy of either no coronavirus testing, or where testing was undertaken, no requirement for awaiting the results prior to the discharge. This more than anything else led to the rapid spread of the virus in care homes, and for this the Government and the Health Secretary must be held accountable.

Scott Macintosh, Killearn.

I RECEIVED a first letter on Friday, May 29 and a second today, June 4, both dated May 26 from the Directorate for Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith, Interim Chief Medical Officer. Both were marked Important: Personal and stating that as an “at risk person”, I should be shielding. The second letter shows that I’m eligible for a free grocery pack.

Fantastic, this is 10 weeks after lockdown and, although I have been staying at home, I have been out to collect items, but have not been into shops. My wife has gone out weekly to shop for us and three other elderly neighbours. Now I’m told I should be in a separate bedroom and stay two metres apart and not be in the kitchen with my wife.

It’s too late, this information should have been out within the first week and by now, the horse has bolted.

Steve Barnet, Gargunnock.

ANYONE remember the utterly pointless care workers’ badge initiative announced by the less than impressive Matt Hancock months before we were told to wear face masks? It was an “initiative” that achieved as little as the naming of the Glasgow Nightingale hospital by our own clay-footed politicians, spinning their own way to disaster through shameful incompetence and tiresome virtue signalling.

I am reminded of Matt’s namesake Tony, who complained that the nurse had taken “a whole armful”. History will show that Matt Hancock, Jeane Freeman and their ilk have completely emptied our collective bladders.

John Dunlop, Ayr.

CAN I refer you to the UK Government’s SAGE Meeting No 13 Coronavirus (COVID-19) held on March 5, 2020. Item 14 of the recently published minutes of this meeting states the following: “SAGE agreed there is no evidence that banning very large public gatherings would reduce transmission.” The minutes provide no further details of how this conclusion was reached or any enlightening discussion on the subject. A few days later the Cheltenham Festival and major European football games took place. As a matter of interest Dominic Cummings was in attendance at this meeting, representing No 10.

Over the following two months a further 21 SAGE coronavirus meetings are held. As far as I can see there is not a single mention in the published minutes of any of these later meetings on the subject of "large public gatherings", either in an explanatory, critical or analytical sense. The earlier bizarre conclusion of March 5 has simply disappeared into the ether. It’s perhaps a pity some of our scientific experts didn’t follow them.

D H Telford, Fairlie.

ON Wednesday (June 3) the UK Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, became unwell with symptoms suggestive of Covid-19. He was tested and went home to self-isolate. On Thursday I heard that he had tested negative for SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus ("Downing Street’s sigh of relief after Sharma test is negative", The Herald, June 5)

I wonder when testing for the purposes of protecting public health will be as speedy as testing for political purposes; in particular the purpose of protecting the Leader of the House of Commons from criticism for deciding to risk the health of MPs, their constituents, and House of Commons staff by insisting that our elected representatives attend the chamber in person when they have managed to perform their duties adequately from their constituencies.

Peter Martin, Muir of Ord.

Read more: Letters: UK approach has been catastrophic for Scotland