Jackie Baillie MSP speaking out over virus testing West Dunbartonshire.

By Bill Heaney

Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh, has raised concerns over how few social care staff have been tested for Covid-19.

Yesterday, during a virtual session of First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon revealed that “just under 20% of the 12,300 health and care workers who have been tested are in the social care sector”.

The number of care workers in West Dunbartonshire is estimated to be more than 600 who are employed in about 15 residences for care of the elderly, including three council-run homes including Crosslet in Dumbarton, which is one of the biggest with about 70 places.

According to the Government’s own figures, there are just under 143,000 people employed in adult social care services in Scotland. This would mean that just 1.72% of the those working in adult social care services have been tested.

The MSP has repeatedly been calling for widespread testing of not just those working in health and social care, and their family members, but in the general population, in order to gain a more accurate picture of the scale of the virus.

World Health Organisation guidance is for mass testing which will be critically important as we emerge from the lockdown.

Jackie Baillie MSP said: “It is astounding that so few hard working staff in social care have been tested for the virus.

“If we have learnt anything over the last week, it is that our social care sector is facing a crisis bigger than many of us could have predicted.

“These key workers are putting their own health, and the health of their family members, at risk every day in order to provide care and protection for local residents.

“Our community knows all too well the devastating effect that this virus is having on social care staff, having recently lost much-loved local home care worker Catherine Sweeney.

“The Scottish Government must introduce testing for staff from across the social care sector in order to ensure they and their clients do not suffer.

“My thanks goes to these incredibly hard working staff who are fighting every day in unimaginable circumstances.

“The least the Government can do is ensure that these staff have everything they need to fight this virus – that means introducing widespread testing for the sector and ensuring that they have a long-term supply of PPE.”

No one was available to comment for either the SNP or the Council in Dumbarton.

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