SCOTLAND'S national charity for older people has hit out at a former top nurse's comments that coronavirus deaths “would be quite useful” to the Scottish NHS.

Age Scotland's chief executive Brian Sloan said the remarks by Professor June Andrews were "barbaric".

She said a large-scale coronavirus outbreak means “people would be taken out of the system”.

Professor Andrews is a former director of the Scottish Government’s Centre for Change and Innovation. She was also previously the Scottish Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing and the director of nursing at NHS Forth Valley.

Speaking at Holyrood’s public audit committee on Thursday, she said: “If you’re on the board of a care home company, a pandemic is one of things you think about as a potential damage to your business because of the number of older people it’s going to take out of the system.

“Curiously, ripping off the sticking plaster, in a hospital that has 92 delayed discharges, a pandemic would be quite useful because your hospital would work because these people would be taken out of the system.”

She added: “That sounds like it’s a horrific thing to say – but it is the case that somehow or other, we’ve put people in the wrong places by not having the kind of strategic views that we should have.

“That means that politicians who don’t want to think about bad things before the election, need to think about putting income tax up even higher in order to pay for more care in care homes and they need to think about whether they reinstate geriatric hospitals.”

Sloan added: "Her comments are barbaric and frankly, abhorrent. No one should believe this, let alone say it.

“The sweeping suggestion that the deaths of vulnerable, older people would be convenient because it would make life easier for hospitals is breathtakingly callous. It  serves only to exploit the situation the nation faces with coronavirus outbreak and is wholly unwelcome. 

 “The more you read and listen to her words, the worse they get. I cannot believe MSPs on the committee didn’t immediately challenge her.
 “These people” she casts aside are mothers, brothers, grandparents and friends. Imagine if it was you or someone close to you in this position.
 “Older people who are unwell and need care should have our compassion and respect."