Coronavirus: Scotland’s chief medical officer resigns over lockdown trip

Scotland’s chief medical officer has resigned after apologising for making visits to her second home during the coronavirus lockdown.

Dr Catherine Calderwood initially said she planned to continue in the role.

But she later issued another statement saying she agreed with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that the «justifiable focus» on her actions risked distracting from the pandemic response.

Dr Calderwood had been given a police warning after making the trip to Fife.

The chief medical officer was among those who have been urging the public to stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS.

However, pictures of her during a trip to Earlsferry – more than an hour’s drive from her main family home in Edinburgh – on Saturday were published in The Scottish Sun.

Nicola Sturgeon and Dr Catherine CalderwoodImage copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Dr Catherine Calderwood have held regular briefings

Dr Calderwood issued an apology on Sunday morning and said she did not want her «mistake» to distract from the guidance on social distancing.

She later told a press briefing that she had made another visit to the property in Fife last weekend with her husband.

The chief medical officer issued a further apology, but reiterated she would stay in her post.

However, on Sunday evening she released another statement in which she said she was «deeply sorry for my actions and the mistakes I have made».

Dr Calderwood said: «The first minister and I have had a further conversation this evening and we have agreed that the justifiable focus on my behaviour risks becoming a distraction from the hugely important job that government and the medical profession has to do in getting the country through this coronavirus pandemic.

«Having worked so hard on the government’s response, that is the last thing I want.»

‘Very serious mistake’

She said she would work to ensure a smooth transition to her successor.

Ms Sturgeon said it was «clear» that Dr Calderwood’s mistake «risks distracting from and undermining confidence in the government’s public health message at this crucial time.

«That is not a risk either of us is willing to take.»

The first minister added that the «very serious mistake» made by Dr Calderwood should not detract from her «highly valuable contribution to the medical profession and to health in Scotland».

Dr Calderwood was appointed as Scotland’s chief medical officer in March 2015.

A former national director for maternity and women’s health at NHS England, she was a leading medical expert in the inquiry into maternity care at Morcambe Bay.

Her deputy is Dr Gregor Smith, a GP and former medical director for primary care in NHS Lanarkshire.

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw described Dr Calderwood’s decision to stand down as «embarrassing and inevitable».

Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said Ms Sturgeon should have «nipped this in the bud» earlier.


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