By Bill Heaney
MSP Jackie Baillie has told of her concern at the latest figures which show 60 people have died from Covid-19 in care homes in her Dumbarton constituency – it includes Cardross, Helensburgh and Lomond North and South – since the start of the pandemic.
Figures released by the Care Inspectorate to the MSP show that, in the last year alone, there have been 15 deaths in facilities across West Dunbartonshire, Helensburgh and Lomond.
HC-One run Castle View Care Home remains the worst affected facility with a total of 23 Covid-related deaths since March 2020, seven of which have occurred between March 2021 and May 1st this year.
At West Dunbartonshire Council-run Crosslet House Care Home, there have been 11 deaths throughout the pandemic, none of which has happened between March 2021 and May this year.
And at Balquhidder in Vale of Leven, there has been one more death since March 2021 meaning Covid-related fatalities there total 12.
Both Strathleven in Dumbarton and Sunningdale in Balloch report no deaths relating to Covid.
In Helensburgh, Northwood House Care Home is worst affected with six deaths, one of which has happened since March 2021.
The Argyle Care Centre has reported four deaths, Lochside House has had three Covid-related deaths and Morar Lodge has had one. Hermitage House reports no Covid-related deaths.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie.
These new figures come just weeks after Ms Baillie demanded First Minister Nicola Sturgeon faces up to the potentially unlawful decision her Government made by discharging patients from hospitals to care homes, without testing, at the height of the pandemic which cost lives.
This followed a decision in England which ruled that the discharge of untested patients to care homes at the height of the pandemic was unlawful.
Jackie Baillie, Labour’s spokesperson on health, said: “It is really sad to hear that 60 residents in local care homes have died from Covid and that this total has increased by 15 in just over a year.
“This is heartbreaking for the families as each of these statistics represents someone who was loved and will be sorely missed.
“It is imperative that people realise that, although restrictions have been lifted, Covid still poses a threat particularly to those in vulnerable groups including the elderly.
“It was disappointing last month that, despite the landmark ruling in England, Nicola Sturgeon failed to admit her Government made potentially unlawful mistakes at the start of the pandemic which has cost lives.
“It is vital that a public inquiry which has been promised by the SNP Government focuses on lessons which can be learned from the pandemic particularly where people have died and how these tragedies could be prevented if this situation arises again.”
Meanwhile, on April 29, The Democrat reported that Jackie Baillie demanded that Nicola Sturgeon should face up to the “unlawful, unreasonable and irrational decisions” her SNP Government made by discharging patients from hospital to care homes at the height of the pandemic which cost lives.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions following a ruling in England that the discharge of untested patients was unlawful prompting the opportunity for those in Scotland who lost loved ones to launch legal action against the Scottish Government.
The Labour Party, of which Ms Baillie is Deputy Leader, argue that families shouldn’t have to go through a long and emotionally draining legal process to be afforded an admission from Nicola Sturgeon of her Government’s mistakes.
West Dunbartonshire care homes were among the worst affected by Covid. As at May last year, there were 16 Covid-related deaths at Castle View and Crosslet House and Balquhidder lost 11 residents each to Covid. The numbers may well have increased since however haven’t been made publicly available.
Public Health Scotland data also previously showed that untested patients had been sent to local facilities throughout spring 2020 including seven untested patients discharged to HC-One’s Castle View care home in Dumbarton at the height of the pandemic.
Dumbarton constituency MSP and Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, Jackie Baillie said: “It is extremely disappointing that despite this landmark ruling in England, Nicola Sturgeon is failing to admit there were unlawful mistakes made by her government.
“They had plenty of information about this virus at their disposal but they chose to send people either untested or who tested positive for Covid to care homes where the virus took hold and, in some cases, caused multiple fatalities.
“As early as the 4th of February 2020, Scottish Government advisers were suggesting that asymptomatic transmission was a possibility.
“Yet by the 26th of March their guidance still said people being discharged from hospital did not routinely need confirmation of a negative Covid test.
“And as late as the 17th of April, the Health Secretary was saying there was not a strong case to test patients before discharge – despite testing guidelines in England changing on the 15th of April.
“Shockingly, by the time the Scottish Government changed their guidelines on the 21st of April, nearly 3,000 untested people and 75 known positive cases had already been transferred into care homes across Scotland, including in West Dunbartonshire and Helensburgh and Lomond.
“This was a shameful, unforgivable, criminal act that cost lives and those are the words of the families affected.
“They have been through the heartbreak of losing a loved one and many of them were unable to be with them in their final moments due to stringent restrictions on visiting being in place to prevent the spread of Covid.
“It would be shameful to force those families to relive that heartache all over again, being dragged through the courts with the emotional toll that comes with it, having to spend thousands of pounds in order to get Nicola Sturgeon to admit the truth.
“I demand that she accepts her Government’s actions were unlawful, unreasonable, irrational and cost lives to spare these families further agony.”