By Bill Heaney
Valeman Bob Doris, the SNP member for Maryhill in Glasgow, wants to know when people will be able to visit their frail relatives and friends in care homes.
He told Nicola Sturgeon: “Given the good progress on vaccinating the priority groups, which include not just the over-80s and those in care homes but, in the weeks ahead, groups such as unpaid carers, when will the Scottish Government be able to review and, I hope, ease the significant restrictions that have been placed on hospital and care home visits for family members, so that they can visit their loved ones? Can the First Minister say a little more about when that might happen and what it might look like?”
The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, told him: “None of us wants the very severe restrictions on people’s ability to visit loved ones in care homes or hospitals to be in place for a minute longer than is necessary. The impact of the restrictions has been severe and distressing, and the situation has affected the mental well-being of care home residents and the people who love them.
“We all want to get to a position of normality as soon as possible, but it has to be done safely. Given the level at which the virus is circulating, and particularly the impact of the new variant that is circulating widely in Scotland and the fear about other new variants, we have to be cautious.”
She added: “The reason for focusing on care homes first was to ensure that we gave maximum protection to that most vulnerable group and the staff members who work closely with them. I hope that the vaccine will allow us to get back to greater normality there, sooner rather than later. However, there are still unanswered questions about the impact of the vaccine on transmission, so we have to continue to be cautious. That is why I will not put a date on it.
“However, I absolutely assure everybody who is watching and who is desperately missing a loved one in a care home that we will get you back to visiting as normally as possible just as quickly as it is deemed safe to do so.”
Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond, said: “Scottish Labour has advocated for a National Care Service since 2011. It is welcome to see our proposal backed up by the Independent Review. It is clear that after 14 years in power it is time for the SNP Government to take responsibility for improving social care services.
“Social care workers are at the heart of a caring and well-functioning care service and it’s time we started to value those who care for the ones we love. Scottish Labour are further calling for a £15-an-hour pay increase for care workers.
“A National Care Service that puts people before profit is the only way forward. The Scottish Government must now listen and take steps to make this happen. We cannot allow our care service to be further weakened by inaction and slow responses to urgent need.”
Mary Crozier Carr, whose mother, Mary Rose, formerly of Bonhill Road and widow of the late Sheriff George Crozier, has been campaigning to allow relatives access to Crosslet House Care Home.
A post supporting her on Facebook last night from Kate Docherty said: “It’s been far to long.”