AN MSP is “shocked” that NHS Borders transferred dozens of patients into care homes without testing the patients for coronavirus beforehand.

An investigation by the Border Telegraph led to the health board revealing that 68 untested patients had been moved before April 26.

Now local politicians have criticised the Scottish Government for failing to act quicker to implement mandatory pre-transfer testing.

Mrs Hamilton, of the Conservatives, said: “The SNP should have issued robust guidance on testing discharged patients much sooner."

The member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk added: “I was shocked to read that such a high number were transferred into Borders care homes when coronavirus was rampant.”

In response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request from this newspaper, NHS Borders said it had transferred untested patients to 22 care homes - including at least 17 in the Borders.

Garden View, in Tweedbank, received 14 untested patients, while Eyemouth’s Saltgreens Care Home, which has reported eight coronavirus deaths, received five untested patients.

However, NHS Borders used its FoI response to say it believes there has been “no transfer of COVID from hospital discharges in the Borders to care homes”.

The health board added that all patients transferred after April 26 were tested beforehand, in line with Scottish Government guidance announced on April 21 and communicated to health boards on April 26.

But Tories Mr Lamont and Mrs Hamilton believe the Scottish Government should have updated its advice sooner.

Reacting to this newspaper’s investigation, Mr Lamont said: “These revelations show just how negligent the SNP has been when it comes to the issue of care homes.

“It was clear early on in this crisis that, once coronavirus got into care homes, the consequences were catastrophic.

“Yet here we see, in the Borders alone, dozens of patients were sent into these facilities without even being tested.

“NHS Borders will have taken some kind of lead from the SNP government and, if it’s happened here, it will have happened elsewhere too.

“It’s no wonder residents, their families and hard-working NHS and care home staff are so furious with the Scottish Government’s shambolic approach.”

Mrs Hamilton added: “I was shocked to read that such a high number were transferred into Borders care homes when coronavirus was rampant.

“It is even more shocking when it appears that patients were transferred to 17 different care homes, including those who we subsequently know became the worst hit.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Since the start of this pandemic our priority has been to save people’s lives and we have taken firm action to protect care home residents as far as is possible.

“At all times our actions have been guided by the best and most up-to-date scientific and medical advice available to us.

“All discharges from hospital are subject to a clinical assessment agreed between the hospital, care home and resident or family member.

“Guidance was issued to care homes on 13 March - and has since been updated - reiterating the importance of infection control procedures in keeping residents and staff safe - and that isolation in a single room and correct use of PPE, remains the most important policy to prevent the spread of infection.

“Decisions about care and treatment, including admission to a care home and staying in hospital, should always be clinically based and in the individual’s best interests in consultation with the individual or their families and representatives.

“It is not a decision that government either directs nor makes.”