FORMER Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has landed a new “key role” at a Scottish university.

Ms Freeman, who stood down from Holyrood ahead of the last election in May, is to become the Ambassador for Community Engagement, Public Health and Innovation within the University of Glasgow.

She takes on the role with immediate effect.

Ms Freeman, who was health secretary between June 2018 and May 2021, stepped back from politics after admitting potentially infected patients were moved out of Scotland's hospitals into care homes at the start of the Covid pandemic.

She previously said: “We didn’t take the right precautions to make sure that older people leaving hospital going into care homes were as safe as they could be and that was a mistake.”

HeraldScotland:

More than 1,300 elderly people were discharged from hospitals to care homes in Scotland at the start of the outbreak last year, before a testing regime was in place.

Although untested patients were considered fit to leave, the drive to free up hospital beds for Covid cases has been blamed for seeding the virus in care homes. 

Announcing her appointment, the university said Ms Freeman will play an “active role” in the £91m Living Laboratory project in Govan, which, via collaboration with NHS and industry partners, will see the implementation of research in a real-world clinical setting.

The former MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and the Doon Valley said: “I am delighted to join the University of Glasgow, and the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, in this new position of Ambassador for Community Engagement, Public Health and Innovation.”

Ms Freeman added: “The University leads many world-changing projects all poised to create real-world impact for people, locally, nationally and internationally.

“I am particularly excited to play a role in the Living Laboratory project in Govan, where working together with all partners, we can realise health benefits for patients and our NHS.”

Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, added: "I am extremely pleased to welcome Ms Freeman to the University of Glasgow, in what will be an important role that harnesses her expertise in health policy and community engagement.

“Ms Freeman’s background as one of Scotland’s most prominent and respected politicians, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be invaluable in making a success of this new role."

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Prof Iain McInnes, University of Glasgow Vice-Principal and Head of the College of MVLS, said; “We are absolutely delighted that someone of Ms Freeman’s calibre will be joining the College.

“Ms Freeman’s experience will be a very welcome addition to the University, and we are confident that it will help us achieve our ambitious aims across a wide-range of innovative projects to improve the health and lives of the people in Glasgow, Scotland and beyond.”

Following Ms Freeman's admission, which came on the BBC podcast, Political Thinking with Nick Robinson, opposition parties claimed the error had "cost lives". 

Ms Freeman said: “I think our failures were not understanding the social care sector well enough so we didn’t respond quickly enough to what was needed in our care homes but also in social care in the community.”

Asked where the Government primarily went wrong, she said: “We wanted people who didn’t need to stay in hospital any longer - because they’d been treated and they were clinically well - to be discharged as quickly as possible, so we freed up those beds for covid patients. 

“Remember, the early predictions about the number of people going into hospital were terrifying actually. 

“But we didn’t take the right precautions to make sure that older people leaving hospital going into care homes were as safe as they could be and that was a mistake.

“Now, I might argue we couldn’t do anything other than we did and all the rest of it, but it still created a real problem for those older people and for the others who lived in care homes and for the staff who worked in care homes.”

The SNP said the Government had already acknowledged mistakes were made.

A spokesperson at the time said: "The Scottish Government commissioned extensive work to review the links between hospital discharges and the impact of Covid in our care homes.

"The First Minister has committed to establishing a public inquiry into the handling of Covid, in which the voices of families would be heard, by the end of the year.

"We hope other governments across the UK will come together to support such an inquiry on a four-nations basis"