Crosslet and Castleview care homes in Dumbarton plus James Wolffe QC and Jackie Baillie MSP.

By Democrat reporter

Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond, has backed calls for the Lord Advocate James Wolffe to investigate reports of Covid-19 patients who were knowingly discharged from hospital to care homes.

It follows a report in the Sunday Post that revealed that at least 37 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospital to care homes earlier in the pandemic and recently published figures from the National Records (NRS) of Scotland on Covid-19 deaths.

NRS figures into deaths from Covid-19 have revealed that people living in the most deprived areas of Scotland are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than those living in the least deprived areas.

The report showed that locally up until the 9th August there were 124 deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate in West Dunbartonshire, and 59 of these deaths were in care homes. In Argyll & Bute it was 64 deaths with 23 in care homes. 

Jackie Baillie said: “It’s concerning that Scots living in the poorest postcodes are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as those in the wealthiest areas. This is a postcode lottery which underlines long running health inequalities in Scotland.

“We are seeing a growing divide between rich and poor in Scotland, following years of austerity by both SNP and Tory governments.

“But what is shocking is that Covid-19 patients were discharged into care homes. Care home staff who worked incredibly hard during the pandemic had no chance of stopping the spread of infection.

“It will be distressing for them and for families affected by this, which is why it is vital that they are provided with answers.

“Care homes deaths during the pandemic have been the crisis within a crisis.

“Tragically, thousands of older people have died and there must be accountability for decisions that led to the virus getting into care homes in the first place.

“That’s why I’m backing calls for the Lord Advocate [James Wolffe QC] and Police Scotland to examine how this happened, and whether any legal action needs to be taken.

“The Scottish Government has failed to be transparent and that is unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, Ms Baillie has drawn attention to a campaign for people’s right to food.

Food bank workers in Dumbarton, Helensburgh and Renton, plus Jackie Baillie MSP and James Wolffe QC., Lord Advocate.

She has pledged her support for Elaine Smith MSP’s draft bill that would see a Right to Food enshrined in Scots Law.

The Bill, entitled Right to Food (Scotland) Bill, seeks to establish an independent statutory body to oversee food policy to ensure no one goes hungry in Scotland.

The passage of this bill would mean that the Scottish Government would have responsibility for ensuring that food is available, accessible, and adequate for everyone. 

Introducing the Bill, Ms Smith said; “At this time of crisis, the availability of food, which many of us have taken for granted, has been shown to be a vital issue.

“Given its critical importance, food policy has not been given the priority it deserves by the Scottish Government.

“According to our international obligations we all have a right to food; however, it is not enshrined in Scots law as it is in many other countries.”

Jackie Baillie said: “No-one should be going hungry in a wealthy nation like Scotland, but sadly due to both Tory and SNP austerity too many people are struggling.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a large number of people become reliant on foodbanks, with many struggling to meet the increasing demand. West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare, Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank and Food for Thought, have been doing an exceptional job supporting those in need before and during this pandemic, but they should not have to be doing so.

“By enshrining the internationally recognised right to food in Scots Law we can send a clear message that hunger has no place in modern Scotland.”

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