McNair, Baillie, Freeman, McColl and Macleod.
INVESTIGATION by Bill Heaney
West Dunbartonshire Council are tonight attempting to ameliorate – take the heat out of – the tsunami of reputational damage that has come their way over their handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Members of the Health and Social Care Partnership in particular are reeling from revelations that they were never up to speed and had no special arrangements in place to deal with the deadly virus.
They simply didn’t make any such arrangements and certainly none timeously.
The Council had inadequate stocks of PPE (personal protection equipment) to protect their workforce, one of whom Catherine Sweeney, from Silverton, Dumbarton, was the first care worker in Scotland to die after contracting the disease.
While the government have plans to compensate the families of frontline NHS workers with a £60,000 fully paid up life insurance policy, there are no similar plans in place for care workers such as Catherine.
Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Cardross and Helensburgh is working with the trade unions to have this rectified.
It is quite possible that the Council had no PPE at all of sufficient quality for staff to deal with the dangers of Covid-19.
On Wednesday, The Democrat revealed that the Council had withdrawn 100 per cent of their care service from nearly 300 elderly and infirm members of the community, abandoning them to their hard-pressed relatives and friends to look after them.
It turns out there was no government order or obligation on them to do this and it has caused widespread dismay in the community.
Cabinet Secretary for Health Jeane Freeman told the Scottish Parliament: “It is not acceptable to me that care packages are being cut—in some instances, by 100 per cent. I expect people to follow the steps that I have already taken.
“If more needs to be done to ensure that existing packages are not cut and that new demand is met, I hope that colleagues in the sector know that my door is always open and that I expect them to come to me with those additional requirements.”
We also disclosed that contiguous Argyll and Bute, which includes Helensburgh and Cardross, had withdrawn 100 per cent of care from just one single individual.
Why then did West Dunbartonshire have to withdraw that service from 284 vulnerable old folk and their families in this area?
The Council was twice called out in parliament his week both by Jeane Freeman, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, and Jackie Baillie, the MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh, and Lomond, their situation was made worse by Cllr Jonathan McColl, leader of the SNP administration.
He injudiciously accused the MSP of lying about the circumstances surrounding the tragic deaths at Crosslet House care home, where nearly 20 elderly residents died after contracting corona virus.
He issued a statement in which he denounced the MSP for telling lies about Crosslet House, where there was obfuscation, cover-up and denial about the number of deaths that had taken place there.
And even about the fact that Cobid-19 was present at all in the council-run care home for the elderly.
Cllr McColl, who has failed to show leadership at any time since the pandemic started to inflict death, sickness and misery on West Dunbartonshire, once again appears to have disappeared from public view.
The Democrat cannot contact him and he has made no contribution to this rebuttal which has come from Allan Macleod, the unelected chair of the Health and Social Care Partnership.
Mr Macleod, it turns out, is an appointee of the health board so he is not accountable in the same way that a councillor would be.
Cllr McColl (left) and the members and staff of the HSCP.
Scottish Labour’s position was that the entire board of the HSCP should be made up of councillors because constituents are more able to hold them to account.
This is the relatively new public body, which should have but didn’t set up a strong defence to take the impact out of the arrival of Covid-19.
The Council/HSCP spin to reassure the local public says this:
Vulnerable residents across West Dunbartonshire are being cared for in the comfort of their own homes, thanks to the support of dedicated home care staff.
Every week, more than 1,200 residents are receiving assistance from Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) staff who undertake a range of tasks which support residents to live independently at home.
Through this pandemic, care staff have continued to be a vital lifeline to many residents who are living in isolation with their families unable to visit due to lockdown and social distancing.
Home care staff are helping residents by providing personal care including support getting in and out of bed and assistance with washing. The dedicated team also remind residents to take medication and help the infirm with their mobility moving in and around their home. Residents also receive support with general household tasks including preparing meals, shopping, laundry and general housework.
West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership, chair, Allan Macleod, said: “During this health pandemic, our home care staff have never been recognised and appreciated more. They are all doing a great job and it’s very humbling to hear how dedicated and committed our staff are. I would like to thank all our employees who are all going above and beyond to care for our most vulnerable residents.”
West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership, vice chair, Councillor Marie McNair, added: “All our HSCP staff thoroughly deserve high praise and recognition for working through this very challenging time. They are doing a fantastic job supported, where possible, by family members.
“I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all our staff who are continuing to care for our residents to ensure they remain living independently at home thanks to the dedication, care and commitment of our wonderful staff.”
It is hard to believe that any public body would take it on itself would go to such lengths in light of what actually happened here.