SCOTLAND'S Health Secretary has rejected claims Government officials spent days "plotting how to spin" a report into hospital patients being discharged to care homes. 

Jeane Freeman said the comments from the Scottish Conservatives were "absolute nonsense". 

An investigation by Public Health Scotland previously found dozens of patients were moved to care homes in the first few weeks of the pandemic despite having tested positive for coronavirus.

Care home deaths have been the subject of intense scrutiny and criticism.

When the report was published in October, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it did not find "statistical evidence" that hospital discharges were associated with care home outbreaks.

The PHS report was only made available to journalists 15 minutes before the start of a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing on October 28. 

But a Freedom of Information request by the Tories shows Government officials appeared to have access to its findings days earlier, on October 23.

Emails show they later discussed how to convert the “not statistically significant” finding into "plain English".

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Donald Cameron said: "SNP spin is contaminating Scottish public life but even by their cynical standards, this is shocking.

"Is there no subject too important or sensitive that the SNP spin machine is not willing to bend and manipulate? It seems not from these revelations.

"Grieving families who lost loved ones in care homes were desperate to see this report but it kept on being delayed.

"Now we find out that the SNP were hard at work spinning a response to downplay the report’s findings on transferring Covid-positive patients into care homes.

"That sums up the SNP’s attitude towards the scandal in our care homes. They're putting spin before honesty, transparency and common decency.

"This was a time for contrition and serious leadership from the SNP. Instead of finding out what really happened with an urgent public inquiry, they worked-up a detailed plan of how to spin the story.

"That is a complete dereliction of duty towards our most vulnerable.”

Ms Freeman was asked about the Conservative claims during the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing. 

She said they were "absolute nonsense", adding: "We did not spend any time trying to spin anything - remember this is an independent report, independent of Government and with academics from both Glasgow and Edinburgh universities.

"The report says what the report says and we have been very clear in our response to that report and very clear in what we believe should be done and how we should act going forward.

"If people want to make political capital or attempt to make political capital out of this then that is their prerogative, but I think it is much more serious than that.

"I take the safety of our residents and our staff in care homes much more seriously than that and as for that claim, I don't have anything more to say about it - it is nonsense."