INVESTIGATION: Yet another granny found with ‘horrific bruises’ before death in care home

Pensioners Agnes Donnelly, left, better known as Nancy, and Jill Symmonds – both badly bruised and traumatised while in care homes.  

By Bill Heaney and Vidushi Tiwari of STV News

Elderly? Not me. I tell people who ask my age that I am 90 looking in and about 40 looking out. That usually gets a laugh, but growing old is a serious business — and a costly one too, not just for you, but for your family. It can also be dangerous, very dangerous.

The William B Yeats poem “When You Are Old” makes those third age years when you are “full of sleep and nodding by the fire” sound idyllic.

That you will end your days sitting in a comfortable armchair “bending down beside the glowing bars .. . slowly reading and dreaming of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep”.

In those circumstances, and with our families close by, none of us would fear dying so much as so many of us do now in  21st century Scotland.

There are two words that put the fear of God into most of us — care homes.

They are almost as much spoken about nowadays as death and taxes, which for many are wisely discussed before the undertaker rolls up with his hearse and horses.  Or, even today, with their motor cycle and sidecar to the local crematorium. There is little room left for us to be buried beside our friends and relatives in the old cemeteries.

Hearse and horses plus funeral by motor bike to Cardross Crematorium.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has a plan for us, however. The National Care Plan.

It came to mind on Monday when STV News published a journalistic investigation by their reporter Vidushi Tiwari, which revealed that a care home resident called  Agnes Donnelly had sustained a litany of injuries all over her body before her death in January 2022.

It said: “The family of a woman with dementia who was found with a catalogue of bruises all over her body prior to her death has demanded a renewed investigation into her injuries.”

I hope the Donnelly family has more success with the SNP-run authorities than I did when I drew attention to a similar case to light in the The Democrat, not once but a number of times.

Agnes Donnelly, better known as Nancy, passed away shortly after an unrecorded incident left her with lesions covering her face at Broomfield Court Care Home in Glasgow.

Her son, Colin, told STV News the family had sold her house in order to pay £1,400 per week for “specialist dementia care” at the facility – managed by Larchwood Care Homes Ltd – in 2020.

The home shut down five months after her death from pneumonia in January 2022 – leaving 89-year-old Nancy’s family without any answers. Secret Scotland yet again.

Colin added: “My mother died just over a year ago, and I thought I was coping with it – but every now and again, I just got this nagging feeling that more could be done to get answers,” Colin said.

“Anyone’s mother is their first love, and it’s horrific what happened to her. When she died, it felt like her life was forgotten about, and the circumstances of her death were forgotten about.

‘Sold her house for £1,400-a-week care’

“My mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia somewhere between 2018 and 2019 – just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit,” Mr Donnelly said.

“Following her diagnosis, she was living alone in her own home and seemed to be doing okay. We visited regularly and tried to keep her company as much as possible, albeit from a distance.”

However, Nancy’s condition quickly deteriorated, and before long she was put into the care of Broomfield Court Care Home, in 2020.

“It became so bad she needed specialist dementia care, and we were assured they had the resources to provide that for her. It was extremely expensive, at £1,400 per week, so we had to make the difficult decision to sell her house and pay the fees,” Mr Donnelly said.

He and his sister, Glynn, were unable to visit her at the home for several months due to Covid-19 restrictions, however eventually began to see her once a week as rules were lifted.

“At first there were no real issues, but eventually my sister started noticing that mum wasn’t being regularly washed, just generally a bit grubby looking, with dirty nails and messy hair.

“We weren’t happy with her living conditions and made several complaints, but kept being brushed off. She continued to lose weight, and lost a lot before the incident.”

‘No explanation for horrific bruising’

Glynn Connelly visited her mother at Broomfield one day in October 2021, and was left “horrified” at the state of her mother’s face.

“She was covered in these extremely dark bruises – we had just visited a few days ago and they hadn’t been there, but we weren’t informed of any incident which could have caused something so awful. 

“We immediately called management but there was no explanation – no record to even say she had been injured.”

Nancy was supposed to be checked on regularly by staff, but no employee had reported seeing the bruises prior to Glynn’s visit.

Colin claims that no one at the home had his mother medically checked over, and thus there was no medical assessment from a doctor.

The family approached the Care Inspectorate, council social workers and Police Scotland to report “a suspicious injury to a vulnerable person”, however claim that it went overlooked.

“At the hospital, blood tests showed she had severe dehydration – she gulped down water when offered. And on closer inspection by medical staff, the bruising extended across her body – it was all over her ribs and legs.

“It was horrific,” Mr Donnelly recalled.

After her discharge from hospital, Nancy was moved to a room closer to the nurses’ station.

However, Colin claims a door within the room, which led to the courtyard, couldn’t be shut properly due to a broken lock.

“I was reassured that the door would be fixed as soon as possible, but she caught pneumonia shortly after. I suspect the freezing cold draft, in the middle of winter 2021, contributed to it.”

Nancy was taken to hospital again, where she contracted “infection after infection,” before her death in January last year.

‘Catalogue of failings’

“Its angering because once she died all the investigations stopped – we were left totally without answers, and the home shut down shortly after.

“She was supposed to be looked after in her vulnerable condition, and look at what happened instead.”

The Care Inspectorate told Colin the circumstances were evidence of a “catalogue of failings on the care home’s part”.

“What angers me the most is the not taking any responsibility or accountability for this. I’m not legally minded, all we are asking for is accountability, and an opportunity to highlight the very real issues surrounding elderly people in care.

“My mother lived a beautiful life,” Mr Donnelly, 65, recalled. “She was a caring kind person who adored her children and grandchildren.

‘We apologise for our failings’

A spokesperson for Larchwood Care told STV News: “We understand Mrs Donnelly’s family’s concerns and acknowledge their considerable distress following the loss of a much-loved family member.

“Our investigation into these matters identified some failings with communication and we apologise for the impact this has had on the Donnelly family. In acknowledging this failing, we have reviewed our policies and made the necessary changes.

“In 2021 the matter was referred to the Care Inspectorate and the Adult Support and Protection team. The home, which is now closed, fully co-operated with the outside agencies looking into the issues raised. We accepted and reacted to the feedback from both agencies throughout the investigation.”

A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said: “We aware of a concern raised about the quality of care experienced by an individual at this care service, which has since cancelled its registration with the Care Inspectorate.

“The concern was investigated by the relevant local authority under Adult Support and Protection procedures.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership said: “Glasgow HSCP were aware of the concerns raised in respect of the home. Investigations were undertaken in line with Adult Support and Protection procedures and increased contact was initiated with the home due to the concerns raised.

“When the provider announced the closure of the home, HSCP staff worked with Care Inspectorate colleagues to support residents, family and the care home to ensure this was done safely.”

“My mother lived a beautiful life,” Mr Donnelly, 65, recalled. “She was a caring kind person who adored her children and grandchildren.  She was extremely charitable, so much so that my sister and I had to sometimes rein her in because of how much she was giving away.”

We apologise for our failings’

A spokesperson for Larchwood Care said: “We understand Mrs Donnelly’s family’s concerns and acknowledge their considerable distress following the loss of a much-loved family member.

“Our investigation into these matters identified some failings with communication and we apologise for the impact this has had on the Donnelly family. In acknowledging this failing, we have reviewed our policies and made the necessary changes.

“In 2021 the matter was referred to the Care Inspectorate and the Adult Support and Protection team. The home, which is now closed, fully co-operated with the outside agencies looking into the issues raised. We accepted and reacted to the feedback from both agencies throughout the investigation.”

A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said: “We aware of a concern raised about the quality of care experienced by an individual at this care service, which has since cancelled its registration with the Care Inspectorate.

“The concern was investigated by the relevant local authority under Adult Support and Protection procedures.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership said: “Glasgow HSCP were aware of the concerns raised in respect of the home. Investigations were undertaken in line with Adult Support and Protection procedures and increased contact was initiated with the home due to the concerns raised.

“When the provider announced the closure of the home, HSCP staff worked with Care Inspectorate colleagues to support residents, family and the care home to ensure this was done safely.”

In December at the end of last year, The Democrat reported: “Today could well be the day when the SNP’s Scottish Government is saved from making yet another huge blunder which would match only in squandered public money and lost life terms the island ferries fiasco and the disastrous construction of the Queen Elizabeth  University Hospital in Glasgow — and so much else the Nationalists have fallen down on in the past 15 years.

Langcraigs Care Home – sold by the Council for £250,000 less than highest offer.

Later we wrote that one of Scotland’s largest independent care home operators has announced today that it is expanding its empire into West Dunbartonshire after securing a £41 million funding package.

Inverness-based Meallmore Ltd will use the cash to purchase two new sites for future developments and refurbish some of its 25 homes across Scotland.

Meallmore already owns Langcraigs  and the site could have been used for social housing for which there is a dire need in West Dunbartonshire.

But the Langcraigs residents were moved up the hill to Overtoun Estate, where a large, £10 million facility had been built at Crosslet House, behind the Timber Houses, with a capacity to accommodate more than 80 residents.

The elderly and frail residents now  in Crosslet are drawn mainly from the homes which have closed, including  Willox Park, Dalreoch and Langcraigs, which had been strategically placed within communities across West Dunbartonshire.

A previous Labour council closed the old “poor house”, which was in Townend Hospital and passed for elderly care in another unenlightened era.

The intention was to provide a modern approach to elderly care which would allow residents to remain in familiar, comfortable surroundings and to meet familiar faces from the communities they came from.

However, this did not materialise and Crosslet House sadly turned out to be disastrously hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Things were so bad there that investigative journalists from BBC Scotland’s Disclosure programme team came to Dumbarton to do a documentary on it. Part of it revealed that some patients had DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) notices included in their notes without their knowledge or without the consent of their families.

Meallmore said that the generous  funding from HSBC (a large international bank) will help the company complete the construction of new home in Dumbarton and an additional care home in Aberdeen.

The new Langcraigs was scheduled to open some time “over the next two years”, but no firmer date has been given.

Meallmore operations director Mary Preston said: “The care home sector has had a challenging year, and reflecting on the past few months has only solidified our belief that more investment is needed to make sure that care homes are delivering for the needs of residents.”

Meallmore specialises in dementia care, nursing care, specialist adult care as well as respite and short-stay care, but nothing was mentioned in its press release about its questionable history which includes significant failings.

Nothing was mentioned then about the company’s emphasis now on mental health, which it has become fashionable to endorse in the care of the elderly sector.

The Democrat asked why the council had sold Langcraigs at such a low price. It was below £1 million and £250,000 less than a construction firm had tendered for it to build housing on the site.

SNP Cllr Iain McLaren, who spoke up for the company at the meeting – where he got his information is not known – where the decision was made and the price was agreed,  said Meallmore would be excellent purchasers of Langcraigs.

He vouched for the good name of Meallmore.  It would be acceptable to sell Langcraigs and send the old folk, along with the residents of other local residential homes in Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven up the into the hills at Crosslet, where access was difficult and dangerous to the extent that a pedestrian crossing was required to keep people safe.

That took a long time coming when the Scottish Government dragged its heels on the project and residents, staff and visitors to Crosslet experience some hairy moments in the interim.

A schoolgirl was knocked down on the main crossing point to Crosslet on the A82 and at last the council decided to put in place a safe crossing with traffic lights.Care Home in Gooseholm, Dumbarton, which was sold to them by West Dunbartonshire Council for a knock down price of less than £1 million.

SNP Cllr Iain McLaren refused to discuss the sale with The Democrat, who asked if proper background checks had been done on Meallmore, and exactly why it was felt the home should be sold for £250,000 less than the highest bid made for it.

Willox Park 1

Crosslet House had been built by a Labour council and adopted by the SNP despite expert advice that old people were best served by keeping them in the community and interacting with the community.

The £10 million “super” residential home was far from central or in any way conducive to community interaction.

Apart from that, it looked architecturally more like a headquarters for the Stasi than an old people’s home.

We asked Cllr McLaren if he would care to answer the question I put to him six months before about the sale of Langcraigs. He had never replied to my e mail.

How could you be so complimentary about Meallmore, I asked, when all you had to do was google their name to discover that allegations made against  them by the relative of at least one resident it were true.

Cllr McLaren seemed shocked, almost as if he had never in his political life before been asked a question by a journalist. But then, he hadn’t been.

Did West Dunbartonshire Council and the Health and Social Care Partnership do any research into the background of the care home company that offered to buy Langcraigs?  Surely you must have done that at least, I asked?

At this point his embarrassed colleague Cllr Marie McNair, pictured left,  who is now an MSP almost disappeared under the table, but she too said nothing.

She became vice chair of the Health and Social Care Partnership, which has special responsibility for care homes. The chair is an un-elected accountant.

Ms McNair is also now the SNP member for the Clydebank seat in the Scottish Parliament.

Quite apart from the council passing up the opportunity to use this site to build social housing, which was mooted by some, it was remarkable that the Health and Social Care Partnershiphad decided Meallmore was a fit and proper company to take care of elderly residents.

A cursory look at the company’s record in the care of the elderly field is deeply disturbing.

All WDC councillors – and officials – had to do to find out was to do what The Democrat did.

This was to Google Meallmore’s name into their computer to discover that the following report appeared on BBC Scotland’s investigative news programmes last year:

An Aberdeenshire care home has apologised after an elderly resident was left severely bruised from a fall. It is believed Jill Symmonds, 78, fell from the toilet while suffering a seizure at Sunnybank Care Home, Cruden Bay. Mrs Symmonds’ family claims that no-one from the care home called to let them know about the incident.  Meallmore Ltd, which runs the care home, said the lack of contact was “unacceptable”. Mrs Symmonds’ granddaughter, Emma Stephen, published a Facebook post condemning the incident, which has been shared more than 1,000 times.  In the post, she said her family did not find out about the fall until nine hours after Mrs Symmonds had been taken to hospital, and even then, they were only told after calling Sunnybank themselves.  She also said her grandmother, who suffers from dementia and epilepsy, had previously broken both her legs in separate incidents due to being left alone on the toilet.  The fall left Mrs Symmonds with two black eyes and severe bruising around her face.

Unfortunately, this is not the only record of similar incidents at this company’s care homes.

There are records of a 91-year-old resident being attacked by a fellow resident in a Meallmore home in Inverness, receiving head injuries.

And of a 32-year-old with mental health issues lying dead for up to a week in their flat while allegedly being supervised by Meallmore care staff.

There was also publicly available a report of an incident when a resident with Parkinson’s disease was humiliated and bullied by staff at a Meallmore residential home.

We wrote at the time: “How the H&SCP can approve this organisation to take care of some of our most vulnerable elderly resident’s beggars belief. This decision to sell this land to this company needs reviewed before legal documents are signed.”

But there were no further communications on these disclosures. West Dunbartonshire Council ignored us. They remained as silent about this as they eventually did about the unacceptably high number of deaths at Crosslet House Care Home.

We asked some Crosslet House staff members and relatives of residents how they felt about what had happened.

They said the home, which boasts a modern cinema room, outdoor terrace, internet rooms, gardens, hair salon and nail bar and provides 84 beds for elderly residents, particularly those with dementia wasn’t as good as their previous much smaller community homes.

People – both staff and residents – were having a hard time settling in. The atmosphere was not the same as in the smaller community homes. Crosslet was too far away, awkward – and expensive – to get to by taxi and there were added dangers about elderly people having to cross the busy A82 to reach it from the bus stop at the foot of Argyll Avenue.

Officially, the council, whose alleged policy is to be open and transparent, and the majority of councillors of all parties clammed up, although Community Party councillor Jim Bollan did say the whole thing was “scandalous”.

But then he had been critical of West Dunbartonshire Council  from the outset for centralising their own social care services and then allowing the private care sector to move in and “make a profit from the care of our elderly”.

Council officers however recommended that the authority’s infrastructure, regeneration and economic development committee approve the sale of Langcraigs.

Although, and despite the existence of the new “super” home, the reason given was that there was still a requirement for more care home beds locally.

There still is a shortage, but the word on the street is that people in West Dunbartonshire are being extremely circumspect about placing their relatives in a care home – any care home.

Cllr Bollan said at the time of the Langcraigs sale: “This proposal by the health and social care partnership stinks to high heaven.  Once more the public are being duped into believing the argument that big is better and the centralisation of council care services for the elderly is good for them.

“This has been thrown back in our faces through them allowing the private care sector to take over Langcraigs and make a profit from the care of our elderly. Scandalous.”

Langcraigs – All locked up and moved into private sector for £250,000 less than the highest offer.

Sadly, it may have taken the Covid-19 pandemic to shine a new spotlight into the dark corner of the care homes business in West Dunbartonshire and nationwide.

The management team at West Dunbartonshire Council have in the past few days been re-designated as Chief Officers and have had their salaries increased by £12,000 a year at a time when there is an ongoing pandemic and a pay freeze in place for public service workers, some of whom are on furlough and others are using food banks.

Is it any wonder that they have cut off communications with The Democrat?

Despite the fact that Meallmore’s description of the home, which has been renamed Alderwood, does not match the reality, which is more in line with refurbishment that happens on the Homes Under the Hammer TV programme, Langcraigs is now open and advertising for staff in competition with West Dunbartonshire Council. Which, given the huge staff shortages in care homes, is something else the HSCP failed to take into account when they sold Langcraigs and the other homes.

This is an example of their advertising and of the publicity they received in the Dumbarton Reporter when the premises opened in March 2021:

Featured job
G82 2AP, Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire

Our friendly team at Meallmore are looking for a Deputy Manager to join us at Alderwood House Care Home. Alderwood House is a purpose-built mental health care home in Dumbarton offering personalised nursing care to adults enduring or recovering from a mental disorder. Our experienced, friendly and compassionate team specialise in caring for vulnerable people with specific mental health needs using programmes which help to support a resident’s recovery.

You will appreciate the clinical and social expertise required in your role as Deputy Manager and we are asking you to:
· Work closely with our care home manager to lead, and develop, the nursing and care team.
· Utilise your skills to provide consistently high-quality care and clinical oversight for your residents.
· Comply with Statutory and Regulatory requirements.
· Ensuring Meallmore’s corporate standards, policies, procedures and technology systems are adhered to.
· Acting up in the home manager’s absence and supporting the team on occasion out of hours.

Qualifications and skills:
· RGN or RMN with relevant experience, registered with NMC
· Proven clinical experience.
· Excellent communication skills.
· Understanding of regulatory requirements.
· Self-motivation and resilience.

What we can offer you:
You’ll be joining an Investors in People Gold accredited company, so you know already that developing our people is important to us.

· Hourly overtime rates available
· Free uniform
· Investment in your ongoing professional development, including our mentorship scheme and clinical skills training
· Refer a friend bonus scheme (up to £1000)
· Pension scheme
· Company sick pay scheme

Salary: £44,228 per annum + overtime rates + benefits
Hours: 37.37 hours a week

If you want to be part of our Meallmore family and this sounds like you, please click apply.

Please note that all job offers are subject to satisfactory references and Disclosure Scotland Scheme Membership (PVG).

Contract Length:N/A
Job Reference:Deputy – Alderwood
Job ID:218165111
Applications: Be first to apply

Remember: You should never send cash or cheques to a prospective employer, or provide any financial information. Please get in touch if you see any roles asking for payments or financial details from you. For more information, visit

Alderwood House: new Dumbarton care home opens

A specialist mental health facility has opened in Dumbarton

A BRAND new residential care facility for adults with mental health difficulties and acquired brain injuries has now opened in Dumbarton.

Located on Gooseholm Road, the purpose-built, 32-bed care facility Alderwood House offers an environment that meets all regulatory requirements, and welcomed its first residents on March 22.

The team at Alderwood House, staffed by leading care provider Meallmore Ltd, consists of mental health support workers, registered mental health nurses and general adult nurses, and is led by manager Barbara McDonald who brings a wealth of expertise in developing and managing mental health facilities, and over 30 years of sector experience.

After qualifying as a mental health nurse, Barbara worked in a range of NHS, voluntary and third-sector roles across the west of Scotland, specialising in continuing care, rehabilitation and community psychiatric nursing, as well as developing specialist mental health and learning disability services in the community.

Barbara said: “Alderwood House will provide industry-leading mental health care and support to individuals who require this service.

“There is a real need for specialised residential care facilities across Scotland to support people with complex mental health issues and provide rehabilitation opportunities, and we are proud to open this new service in Dumbarton.

“We are extremely grateful to the local community for welcoming the service and in particular the support from local GP practices and Community Mental Health Teams.

“What has impressed me so far about Meallmore is the company’s dedication to investing in its staff.

“All staff at Alderwood House have undergone weeks of stringent training to support residents with specific mental health needs.

“All of our staff are looking forward to welcoming residents to Alderwood House.”

There is now a great debate at national level about how the Scottish government will embark on a policy to solve the problems of the care service for the elderly homes.

Here is an excerpt from the debate which took place at Holyrood:

  • 2. Anas Sarwar (Glasgow) (Lab): 

    On Monday, the BBC revealed that the national health service crisis created by this Government had got so bad that health leaders had discussed charging for treatment. In response, the health secretary said that that was “abhorrent”. However, the truth is that there is already a two-tier healthcare system in Scotland. Can the First Minister tell the chamber how many procedures were carried out in private hospitals in Scotland in the past year?

  • The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon): 

    I will provide that precise figure, but, as I have just said to Douglas Ross, the number of people who self-fund for private care in Scotland is significantly lower than it is in England—actually, it is even more significantly lower in Scotland than it is in Wales, where Labour is in power. That is the reality, because we protect our national health service in these difficult times, and we always will.

    Anas Sarwar talks about paying for treatment. I repeat: this is the Government that abolished prescription charges—something that Labour had many opportunities over many years to do but failed completely to do. Just as I will take no lessons about the founding principles of the national health service from the Conservatives, I will take none from Labour.

  • Anas Sarwar: 

    Perhaps the First Minister will take lessons from the people who are having to actually pay for treatment in Scotland. In the past year, more than 39,000 patients were treated privately in Scotland. That does not include the many private treatments that were carried out in individual clinics such as dental surgeries. The number of people now paying for treatment without health insurance has increased by 72 per cent. Often, those are people who are forced to borrow money, turn to family and friends or even remortgage their homes to get healthcare that should be free at the point of need.

    I know that the First Minister does not like facts, but let us look at the facts. Almost 2,000 people have gone private for endoscopies and colonoscopies. Those treatments cost an average of £1,195 privately. More than 7,800 people have gone private for cataract surgery, the average cost of which is £2,660. A staggering 3,500 people have had a hip or knee replacement in a private hospital. The average cost of that is £12,500.

    Those figures make it clear that, under the Scottish National Party, healthcare in Scotland is already a two-tier system. Does the First Minister accept that that goes against the founding principles of our national health service as a universal healthcare system free at the point of need?

  • The First Minister: 

    No, I do not accept that, and I do not accept that we have a two-tier health system in Scotland. We will always act to protect the founding principles of the NHS, and we have done more than any other Government to achieve that.

    The one thing that was completely missing from Anas Sarwar’s question, of course, was reference to a global pandemic that caused the cancellation and pausing of elective services in our national health service for a considerable period of time. That is why we have seen an increase in those figures in recent years. However, those figures remain significantly below the comparable figures in England and Wales. Let me remind Anas Sarwar that his own party is in government and running the national health service in Wales.

    As we continue to progress the NHS recovery plan and get more operations done within waiting times in the national health service, we will continue to see the benefits of NHS care free at the point of need for everyone across Scotland.

  • Anas Sarwar: 

    The First Minister’s response is to deny the facts. It is not a good enough excuse to say that, because there was a pandemic, that made it okay for people to have to go private and pay for treatment.

    The First Minister denies that we have a two-tier system. In 2021, 40 per cent of all hip and knee replacements in Scotland were paid for privately. Some 3,430 people paid to get a hip or knee replacement privately. Our NHS is at risk because of the Government’s choices and the Government’s crisis. After 15 years in government, there is no one else to blame. Take responsibility for your record. Hospital beds have been cut, and nursing and midwifery training places have been cut. There are record long waits in accident and emergency. Some 750,000 Scots are on an NHS waiting list, and people are being forced to go into debt to go private. That undermines the very principles of our national health service, which is the Labour Party’s and our country’s greatest-ever public service achievement. Does it not get clearer every single day that our NHS is not safe in SNP hands?

  • The First Minister: 

    We have record numbers of people working in our national health service. There are significantly more than there were when this Government took office and there are significantly more proportionately than there are in any other part of the United Kingdom, including in Wales, where Labour is in government.

    On how we are responding, Anas Sarwar says that the pandemic should not be used as an excuse. I agree with that, but its impact on our national health service cannot be ignored. In all the figures that he quotes, he takes no account of the impact of a global pandemic on our national health service.

    What are we doing? We are building up the capacity of our NHS. In response to Douglas Ross’s questions, I referred to one of the things that I did when I was health secretary. I brought back into public ownership Stracathro hospital, which had been privatised by the last Labour Administration. [Interruption.] Jackie Baillie was, of course, a member of that Administration. Earlier this year, we brought another private sector hospital—Carrick Glen hospital in Ayrshire—into public ownership. That facility will be developed to become one of our new national treatment centres.

    We are building up the elective capacity of our NHS to treat more people. That is the practical action that the Government is taking. We will take that action and we always will take that action while we protect the founding principles of our national health service.

Links to Meallmore stories …

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