Tory MSP tells of mother’s care home death and says ‘families deserve the truth’
A senior Tory MSP has spoken about how his mother died alone and “without family contact” in a care home during the Covid pandemic.
Murdo Fraser (pictured) questioned if strict restrictions in care homes were as “damaging, if not more” than the virus to those in homes as he also challenged the Scottish Government over “disappearing” WhatsApp messages sent during lockdowns.
Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday she has “nothing to hide” as some 14,000 messages are set to be handed over to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.
It has been reported figures including Ms Sturgeon and the Scottish Government’s national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch may have deleted messages.
Mr Fraser said: “People like me and my family who lost loved ones due to Covid, and suffered as a result of lockdown restrictions, deserve the truth.”
Writing in the Scotsman, the Mid Scotland and Fife MSP told how putting his mother, who was suffering from dementia, into a care home in December 2020 was one of the “hardest days of my life”.
She died “some months later” after suffering a stroke, with Mr Fraser saying he would have liked to have been able to hold her hand as she did so.
That was not possible because of restrictions in care homes, with the Conservative MSP questioning the impact of “draconian rules introduced by our governments”.
He said: “Others might take a different view to me, but in the case of our own family I would rather have been able to see, hold and chat to my mother in what would turn out to be the last few weeks of her life, even if it did carry with it a risk of infection, rather than see her die alone and without family contact.
“She had given me life. I would have liked as her son to at least hold her hand as she lost hers.”
He added: “I know what my mother’s view on that balance of risk would have been, but neither she nor we were ever in a position to make that choice. It was one that our governments made for us.”
Mr Fraser called on the Scottish Covid Inquiry – which has now started hearing evidence – to “give careful consideration to all these issues”.
While he stressed he was “not looking to blame anyone for the awful experience that I and my family went through”, he added: “I hope that with the benefit of hindsight we will now properly consider whether the negative impacts of the severe lockdowns that were imposed outweighed the benefits.”
Mr Fraser also stressed the importance of having the “fullest possible picture” of why governments at Holyrood and Westminster took the decisions that they did.
To achieve this, he said it was “vital” that the Scottish and UK inquiries “have access to all the information that they require”.
With concerns having been raised that messages from the former first minister and others may have “disappeared”, Mr Fraser said: “This is simply breathtaking.
“The establishment of the Scottish Covid Inquiry was announced by Nicola Sturgeon back in May 2020, and a promise was made that all relevant material would be made available to that inquiry.
“Yet it appears that, even after that point, messages passing between senior government ministers and officials, which might be highly relevant to the work of the inquiry, were being deleted.”
Ms Sturgeon told journalists on Tuesday she was “committed to full transparency” for the inquiries, saying this was needed “in the interests of everybody across this country who was affected by Covid”.
The former first minister, who led the Scottish Government throughout the pandemic, said: “Transparency for the families affected, by everybody affected by the pandemic, matters really a lot to me.”
Her comments come after Scottish Deputy First Minister Shona Robison told MSPs the Scottish Government would share more than 14,000 messages with the UK Covid-19 Inquiry by Monday November 6.
Humza Yousaf, who succeeded Ms Sturgeon as First Minister, will hand over messages unredacted, Ms Robison said.
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