Need a test for Covid? It’s ludicrous to refer local care workers to Dunoon, says outraged Baillie

By Bill Heaney

The number of deaths in West Dunbartonshire care homes, as of 17 May, was 55. This is up from 48 last week and more than double the 26 deaths recorded a month ago on 19 April, according to Jackie Baillie, the MSP for Dumbarton Constituency.

The MSP has pleaded for the immediate introduction of widespread local testing as new National Records of Scotland figures show West Dunbartonshire continuing to have a significantly high Covid-19 death rate. The average figures for the whole of Scotland show the death in care homes numbers decreasing.

Ms Baillie’s call for immediate local testing follows confirmation from West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership that there was not a single testing hub accessible within the local authority and that social care staff would have to travel into Glasgow and the surrounding area to access a test.

Cllr Jonathan McColl, whose remit includes the HSCP and the Health Board, has refused to discuss the matter with The Democrat.

Figures from the NRS showed that the situation in local care homes has once again worsened.

Ms Baillie said: “The number of deaths in West Dunbartonshire care homes, as of 17 May, was 55. This is up from 48 last week and more than double the 26 deaths recorded a month ago on 19 April.

“The situation in hospitals is also significant with 51 Covid-19 related hospital deaths having been recorded, as of 17 May. This is up from 47 deaths last week.”

Jackie Baillie has repeatedly raised concerns over the high death rate that West Dunbartonshire is experiencing.

She has called for the immediate testing of all care home staff and residents.

Ms Bailie also raised concerns this week after being contacted by worried staff and families who believed that, due to a lack of testing, staff were unwittingly passing on the virus to vulnerable and at risk residents.

West Dunbartonshire continues to have the second highest number of Covid-19 deaths per head of the population with 12.36 deaths per 10,000 people.

The MSP added: ““Seeing these figures is sobering – but they are no longer surprising.

“It is awful that once again more local people are dying in our care homes than in our hospitals and that we have the second highest death rate per head of the population of any area in Scotland.

“I, along with care home staff, families and health professionals, have repeatedly called for immediate and urgent action. Whilst there are falls in the number of deaths in other parts of the country our figures continue to rise. The Scottish Government must take more action.

“Not nearly enough is being done to keep our elderly and vulnerable safe. Care home staff and residents need tested constantly if we are to fight this virus effectively. Families are still losing loved ones in our care homes and hospitals.

“And despite the level of infection locally there is no local testing centre. People are having to travel to centres in Glasgow and some have even been referred to Dunoon to be tested, which is ludicrous.

“It takes an hour and 20 minutes to drive from Dumbarton to Dunoon or much longer if you are willing to wait for a ferry.

“We need immediate access to local testing facilities so that the public can protect themselves, and a review of the practice within care homes to ensure that no cross-contamination is occurring.”

The closest social care staff testing facilities are as follows: 

Site Type of COVID-19 Testing Centre
Gartnavel General Hospital Drive through
Port Glasgow Health Centre Drive through
Stobhill ACH Drive through
West Glasgow ACH Outpatient clinic


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