Scotland's chief medical officer resigns after disregarding own COVID-19 advice twice

Brenda Watkins
April 7, 2020

In a statement, she added: "The most important thing to me now and over the next few very hard months is that people across Scotland know what they need to do to reduce the spread of this virus, and that means they must have complete trust in those who give them advice". And either way the chief medical officer had to go. "She later made clear that there had been a second visit and of course made that clear at the briefing yesterday, so that's the situation there".

She will now work with her team "over the next few days to ensure a smooth transition" to her successor.

But she said she finally realised that Dr Calderwood had sent a "terrible message" and the loss of her advice was outweighed by the risk people would stop listening to her government's pleas to stay at home. "That's not a risk that I, and to be fair to her, she was prepared to take", the first minister said.

A fraught weekend saw Calderwood supported by the Scottish government and the first minister at first, although the media uproar - a mixture of anger and absolute amazement at the hypocrisy and/or mere stupidity - proved too much, and she resigned late on Sunday.

This step back measure did not satisfy the opposition parties.

Over the course of Sunday afternoon she faced increasing calls from some Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians to stand down.

"It is clear that the chief medical officer's disregard of the government's own guidelines which she is the principal adviser on, was not a one-off, a simple mistake, or human error as was suggested overnight", Leonard said. The Scottish government's handling of this has been less than straight. Unless the government is honest and open, it is running the serious risk of causing public confidence to collapse.

In an intervention created to shore up public confidence in the lockdown, Livingstone used his force's Twitter feed to chastise Calderwood.

The latest coronavirus numbers from UW’s prediction model
The new number of expected deaths is 81,766, with a higher range of 136,401 and a lower range of 49,431, according to U.S. The April 5 update predicts the need for 140,823 total hospital beds and 29,210 ICU beds at the peak of the outbreak.

"Individuals must not make personal exemptions bespoke to their own circumstances".

At a press conference Dr Calderwood apologised unreservedly, before adding that she meant to remain in her official position and focus on the COVID-19 crisis. "A job that - notwithstanding her mistake on this - she is doing extremely well".

"I did not follow the advice I'm giving to others, I'm truly sorry for that", she said.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said officers had visited Dr Calderwood and issued a warning about her conduct.

This is over an hours drive away, despite urging Scots to "stay at home".

The First Minister paid tribute to Dr Calderwood, saying she was a "transformational" chief medical officer (CMO).

Making the announcement last night, she said she was "deeply sorry" and resigned "with a heavy heart". It's bad enough when those with only one (rented) home feel the need to soak up the sun in a local public park when the alternative of remaining indoors puts intense strain on family relationships.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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