NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of spinning a damning report on known positive Covid patients being sent to care homes – after a “crucial” conclusion by the independent authors was missing from the final document.

The First Minister has ruled out an immediate public inquiry into the fiasco, despite pressure from opponents - insisting that a full examination will take place once the pandemic has been dealt with.

The Public Health Scotland report, published yesterday, revealed that 113 hospital patients who tested positive for Covid-19 were moved to care homes in the early stages of the pandemic as the virus told hold in institutions across Scotland.

The paper also tallied more than 3,000 occasions where patients were transferred to care homes without being tested to establish whether they were carrying the virus.

One of the report authors, Professor Bruce Guthrie from Edinburgh University, yesterday told journalists that it was “likely that hospital discharges were the source of introduction of infection in a small number of cases”.

This line was not included in the published report – with the First Minister insisting that the study found "no statistical evidence" that discharges "of any kind" contributed to outbreaks in care homes.

When pressed further by journalists about the key omission of the crucial line from the report, Professor Gurthrie added it was “an overall interpretation based on the data in the report and our understanding of how the virus is transmitted”.

READ MORE: Coronavirus Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon under fire for care home transfers

Ms Sturgeon was grilled over her response at First Minister’s Questions and ruled out a public inquiry taking place into the scandal while a second wave of the virus grips the country.

Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader, Ruth Davidson, said: “It was delayed by a month, it was given to ministers privately on Monday, it was only released to the media 15 minutes before questions and with a press release issues that didn’t even bother to mention know Covid positive patients being sent to care homes in the first place.

“The very last people to get sight of it were the families and loved ones of those who died.”

She added: “We already know that a crucial line in Public Health Scotland’s briefing to journalists that it was likely that hospital discharges are the source of introduction of infection in a small number of cases was missing from the final report.

“Does the First Minister really think the delay, the spin and the slight of hand surrounding this report serves those grieving families well?”

The First Minister stressed that “there is much more work to be done to understand the issues that were factors in care home outbreaks”.

She added: “I take all of these issues extremely seriously. I have given a commitment there will be a full public inquiry. That full public inquiry will look at the issues of care homes.

“We are in the grip of a second wave of Covid. I think it is right that we enable everybody who has a part to play to focus on getting on the country through that.”

Ms Sturgeon was also pressed on care homes by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who claimed that “care homes which took discharges were three times more likely to have outbreaks than those who did not”.

He added: “The crisis in our care homes didn’t just have one cause, the lack of PPE, despite warning after warning, the lack of testing of care home staff, despite warning after warning, years of underfunding, despite warning after warning.”

The First Minister said: “There will be a full public inquiry when the time for that is right, when we have got the country through this next stage of Covid.”

Her comments came as she told Holyrood of the “depths of my regret at what happened in care homes”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I don’t expect any grieving family to think they have all the answers to the questions they have in this report, I want to do everything we can to provide those answers.

“These grieving families and care homes is probably the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to sleep.”

She said later: “I am sorry for any error that I have made in this, I’ve said that many times before.

“I’m not carefully choosing my words – I probably don’t have the capacity to do that at the moment – I am trying to be as frank as possible and we’ve got things wrong and we will continue to try to put that right, and we will have all of the normal processes of accountability.”