THE governments of both England and Scotland have both made similar excuses about the care-home Covid deaths (“Watchdog’s 180 warnings over staff shortages at care homes”, The Herald, July 28).

Both have claimed that they didn’t really know in March that the virus could be infectious before symptoms when they transferred so many elderly from hospitals into homes, without even ensuring that there were adequate infection control measures in place.

Yet, as early as January 28, in the minutes of the Sage committee advising the Governments, and on which the Scottish Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser are represented, it is stated: “There is limited evidence of asymptomatic transmission but early indications imply some is occurring”. That was in January. There was more evidence in the following two months.

Those responsible for the decisions may have the excuse that they were overwhelmed by the work that had to be done and that they hadn’t time to look at evidence. But don’t let the politicians and advisers hide behind the excuse that they took very bad decisions because there was no evidence.

Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.

IT was a sobering experience to watch Disclosure: the Care Home Scandal on BBC 1, not only because of the high coronavirus death toll in Scotland’s care homes but also because, it was reported, actors had to be employed extensively in the programme, because workers who were involved were concerned about their jobs if they were to speak out and be identified.

The SNP government stands accused of adopting policies during the pandemic which prevented the elderly ill being transferred from homes to hospital for attention, with care homes being left to cope with the consequences.

These policies transferred elderly patients from hospitals to homes in order to release beds without checks being made on whether or not such they were carriers of the virus; and they failed to implement timeously a system for the effective testing of care-home staff.

Nicola Sturgeon, who apparently declined an invitation to appear on the programme, as she micro-manages the Scottish Government’s response to the pandemic, will no doubt say that lessons have to be learned.

That is as may be, but these lessons will be learned too late for the many families who have lost their relatives prematurely while in care homes. Success can be claimed for protecting the NHS, but at what cost in human terms? The families referred to can be forgiven for considering that their loved ones were collateral damage.

The system we have for the care of the elderly has been a poor relation to the NHS for too long and promised improvements over the years have usually fallen far short. Surely the pandemic has proved that the existing system is not fit for purpose.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.