Jeane Freeman, John Mooney, Jackie Baillie,Castleview and Crosslet care homes.
By Democrat reporter
Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Lomond, has called on West Dunbartonshire Council to urgently begin testing all social care staff and care home residents regardless of symptoms.
This follows reports that West Dunbartonshire Council has not yet begun testing all staff despite Jeane Freeman, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, recommending that this should happen almost three weeks ago. Thus far, only symptomatic social care staff and residents have been presented for testing.
West Dunbartonshire Council has stated that it has not expanded its testing as the Scottish Government has not yet provided further guidance for universal testing.
Since March, Jackie Baillie has repeatedly called on West Dunbartonshire Council and social care providers to continuously test all staff and residents, regardless of symptoms. This is due to extensive research which shows that not everyone who carries Covid-19 presents symptoms.
West Dunbartonshire has been hit particularly hard by the virus with high death rates for both care home residents and the general public.
The MSP said: “It is simply not good enough that West Dunbartonshire Council is using a lack of guidance from the Scottish Government as a reason for continuing to put staff and residents at risk.
“We have known for months now that the best way to reduce the spread of this virus is to test everyone – not just those with symptoms.
“This refusal to test all social care staff and care home residents is the latest in a long line of failings in terms of the way that this crisis has been handled in our care homes.
“It is irresponsible for the Scottish Government to not provide immediate guidance following its announcement on expanding testing for all care home staff.
“The Government has a duty of care and a responsibility to ensure that its announcements are implemented, otherwise they will be accused of caring more about headlines than actual delivery on the ground.
“However, the council should have used its initiative rather than using the lack of guidance as an excuse to do nothing.
“Our care homes are truly the frontline of this virus. In West Dunbartonshire, staff and residents continue to be hit particularly hard by it. It is time that the Council and Scottish Government sort this out and implement the measures that can help to reduce infection and save lives.”
Labour councillor John Mooney said: “It seems that so far the Scottish Government has not issued guidance and has also not provided the Council with the necessary resources.
“I am assured that regular testing of all care home staff will begin next week but it would appear that the protocol will not allow testing of asymptomatic people until next Monday. So not one, but two massive failures by the Scottish Government.”
Cllr Jonathan McColl, leader of the SNP council in West Dunbartonshire, refused to comment.