By Democrat reporter
A picture of horror is emerging from the Covid inquiry in Scotland, which began taking evidence last week.
Already it has heard that testimony will be presented which shows elderly care home residents in Scotland “may have been neglected and left to starve” during the pandemic.
Excerpts from the evidence have been already reported In The Democrat.
In some cases, residents that needed oxygen as part of their care did not get it. Further evidence will show that elderly and vulnerable people were pressured to agree to Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) notices—and that even some of those without a DNR notice were not resuscitated.
That means that there was no attempt to revive patients who had stopped breathing or whose heart had stopped beating.
The inquiry will also be told that care homes quickly ran out of PPE protective equipment and even basic disinfectant, and that workers were forced to improvise.
As infections rampaged through the care system, staff at one home report that alcohol-based hand gels “were locked in a cupboard to which staff were not permitted access by management”.
They “cleaned using air freshener” instead. And, in some cases, managers forbade staff from sharing news of what was going on, meaning that many families still have no idea of the true circumstances in which their relatives died.
Shelagh McCall KC, counsel for the Bereaved Relatives Group Skye, said the ban on care home visits made it impossible for family to check on relatives.
“Some staff formed the view that management cared more about their reputation in the community and the protection of their business than they did about the residents,” she said.
That led to families being “told their loved ones were ‘fine’, only to get a sudden hurried phone call that they were dying.”
The inquiry is also set to hear about the systemic failure of the health and social care systems. Care home managers will tell the inquiry that they were forced to accept patients discharged from hospitals to free up space there—and that this was the root cause of many care home outbreaks.
And, they will say, when care home residents developed illnesses, A&E units were under instruction not to admit them.
But even as the inquiry was laying out the scale of damage, it was being speculated that politicians are trying to derail both it, and the wider UK Covid Inquiry.
Key Covid WhatApp messages sent by Nicola Sturgeon were manually deleted from her phone. Documents given to the UK Covid Inquiry show the former Scottish first minister is among a string of senior government figures who claim the data no longer exists.
Aamer Anwar, lead solicitor for Scottish Covid Bereaved, said, the people he represents find it “inconceivable” that most senior figures in the Scottish Government failed to retain their WhatsApp messages over the two-year period of the pandemic.
“At the very least by August 2021, when the Scottish Government announced a public inquiry, someone would have known that all those involved in key decision-making for the pandemic must immediately stop deleting the evidence. The families we represent deserve the truth.”
Top picture is of solicitor Aamer Sanwar who finds it “inconceivable” that most senior figures in the Scottish Government failed to retain their WhatsApp messages and former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with her WhatsApp phone.