By Democrat reporter

Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has said the lack of transparency over deaths in individual Scottish care homes due to Covid-19 is unacceptable and must be addressed.

This follows a BBC investigation which has found that the majority of care providers in Scotland have refused to release further information about the number of deaths in individual care homes.

Jackie Baillie has previously contacted both West Dunbartonshire Council and the Care Inspectorate to ask for information about specific care homes in her constituency.

Both requests for information have been denied and she has been forced to contact the independent Information Commissioner.

West Dunbartonshire’s care homes have been severely affected by Covid-19 and a number of residents and care workers have sadly passed away from the virus.

Care homes have accounted for more than half of all coronavirus deaths in Scotland since the start of the pandemic, but it is not possible to map all of the deaths to specific care homes or care providers unless information is released.

Jackie Baillie MSP said: “The continued secrecy in regard to releasing care home specific information is completely unacceptable.

“More than 50% of care homes in West Dunbartonshire have experienced a Covid-19 outbreak. Some of these outbreaks could have been avoidable.

“We know that the Scottish Government transferred older people from hospital to care homes without testing, care homes were slow to get PPE and slow to access testing for staff and residents.

“Families with elderly relatives will be hugely apprehensive about making the decision to move their loved ones into care homes. Having home-specific information will go a long way in addressing fears and questions that they may have.

“The Health Secretary could end the secrecy today by releasing the data on care home deaths. The Scottish Government must do the right thing and publish the data, out of respect for grieving families and to avoid repeating decisions that risk lives.”

Meanehile, Jackie Baillie has commended local businesses for actively taking part in the track and trace programme in helping to contain outbreaks of covid-19.

This follows confirmation from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde that individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 in the recently reported outbreak in Inverclyde, have been identified as having frequented the Queen of the Loch in Balloch, stayed at Loch Lomond Holiday Park and taken a trip on Sweeney’s Cruises in the days prior to their positive test result.

All businesses co-operated fully with the Council and health board and are determined to keep all of their guests and visitors safe.

Members of the public and staff who came into contact with them will have been contacted and told to isolate to limit the chance of spreading the virus.

Jackie Baillie MSP said: “I am glad that all of our local businesses that were affected followed the requirements of the Council and health board. It is important that for people with covid-19, their movements are tracked and everyone they have come into contact with are traced.  Whilst this is the first time it has happened in our area, it is important that the system works if we are to fight the virus effectively.

“Local business owners understand the importance of keeping their customers and staff safe and acted quickly. The health board, Council and local businesses should continue to operate transparently as this will maintain confidence in the local community that the system works.

“Only by testing, tracking, tracing and being fully transparent will we be able to beat this virus and suppress further outbreaks.”

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