VIRUS: MSP BAILLIE PRESSES FM ON CARE HOMES

Breaking news: Update: West Dunbartonshire
Covid-19 Deaths 115
4 New Deaths last week.

By Bill Heaney

When will the Care Homes Review take place, Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Holyrood today (Thursday).

The First Minister replied: “I have no doubt that at an appropriate time, after we have dealt with the immediacy of the crisis, there will be inquiries and reviews of how Governments [and she did say governments plural] have handled it.

“The reality is that hindsight allows people to look at decisions that were made in the past, and to apply knowledge of the virus that we have only now. We have, and always will, take the right decisions based on the best information that we have, and we will adapt those decisions as new information changes what we know.

“Earlier in May, we announced new arrangements to significantly strengthen oversight of Scotland’s care homes.

“They involve clinical and care professionals undertaking targeted reviews of support in all care homes.

“Prior to Covid-19, we had started to look at ways to improve care home sustainability as part of our adult social care reform programme, which the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport [Jeane Freeman] launched with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities last year.

“We will use the learning from the Covid-19 pandemic to identify what that means for the future of care home provision—for example, how provision is organised and funded.”

Jackie Baillie told the FM: “Transferring older people from hospitals to care homes without testing, the lack of personal protective equipment and the slow provision of testing for staff have contributed to care homes being the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Castleview Care Home
Castleview care home in Dumbarton.

“Therefore, I will welcome an inquiry, but I also welcome the separate review of care homes that appeared to be announced by the health secretary a few days ago.

The Scottish Government has been here before, however. Let me refresh the First Minister’s memory.

“A ministerial task force on the future of residential care for older people reported in March 2014, and its report contained 34 recommendations.

“How many of those recommendations have been implemented, in particular the recommendations on managing risk and care home governance?

“I am told by social care professionals that the answer is that only a handful have been implemented. What is the point of a review if the First Minister fails to implement its recommendations?”

The First Minister said she would write to Jackie Baillie with a detailed answer “because I do not have that information in front of me”.

She added: “Jackie Baillie knows, as all members do, about the variety of work that has been done around social care—not the least of which has been the integration of health and social care over recent years.

Baillkie Jackie 101
Jackie Baillie MSP

“It is important that we learn from the crisis and that we consider afresh, based on what we know and have learned throughout it, what the longer-term future of the care home sector might be.

“My job right now is to focus on the crisis that is in front of us, and to continue to take the best possible decisions, based on the best evidence.

“We will, after that, have time for reviews and inquiries, and I will welcome them. I mean that sincerely. However, I am not going to take my eye off the ball in respect of dealing with what lies in front of us, because it is still a serious concern for people across Scotland and across the globe.”

Meanwhile, Jackie Baillie has raised the issue of West Dunbartonshire not having a single Covid-19 testing facility with the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman.

During the virtual session of Health and Sport Portfolio Questions, Jackie Baillie asked Ms Freeman what plans the Scottish Government had to provide testing facilities within West Dunbartonshire.

This is because West Dunbartonshire has the second highest level of deaths, per head of the population, yet social care staff and members of the public are being made to travel far out with the area to access testing facilities, the MSP said..

Jackie cited a case of a constituent having to travel from Dumbarton to Dunoon to get tested, which is a considerable distance to go, especially if you are feeling ill.

Jackie Baillie has called for local testing hubs to be introduced immediately in order to reduce the spread of Covid-19, both within communities and care homes.

The MSP said:  “This is not the first time that I have asked the Scottish Government to introduce testing hubs within West Dunbartonshire and it won’t be the last.

“Our community has been hit particularly hard by the virus and the number of daily deaths and new infections is still cause for grave concern. Our social care staff are working incredibly hard to protect their patients but without easy access to testing, they have unwittingly continued to infect those who are vulnerable and at risk.

“These staff members are doing a fantastic job and going to extreme lengths to care for the elderly within West Dunbartonshire. Sadly, the Scottish Government was slow to act on testing, but they need to ramp up provision if we are to t ankle the crisis in our care homes and emerge from lockdown successfully.

“It is paramount that local testing hubs are opened immediately so that there is easy access for the whole community. ”

 


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