Care home coronavirus deaths in Scotland overtake hospitalsLara-Joyce Roa
Care home coronavirus deaths in Scotland overtake hospitals.
Scottish government accused of failing to implement routine testing for care home staff
The latest data on weekly deaths occurring in various settings shows that 1,818 deaths linked to the virus have occurred in care homes since the outbreak began, compared with 1,815 deaths recorded in hospitals.
Week-on-week figures for Scottish facilities show that the number of care home deaths has been higher than that in hospitals for six weeks now, but this is the first time that the cumulative number of deaths has been higher in care homes than in hospitals.
The figures come as the Scottish government faces continued scrutiny over care home deaths, including the discharge of untested patients to care settings at the beginning of the outbreak, which the Scottish Conservative leader, Jackson Carlaw, has described as a “national scandal”.
Hospital deaths still far exceed care home deaths in England and Wales, both on a cumulative and weekly basis. Although the number of deaths occurring in care homes in Northern Ireland has previously exceeded those in hospitals, cumulatively there have been 350 hospital deaths compared to 313 care home deaths.
At first minister’s questions on Wednesday, Nicola Sturgeon was challenged repeatedly by Carlaw about testing in care homes as he noted the latest death figures. She insisted that a programme of regular and routine testing of care home staff was under way and that her government would publish up-to-date data “as soon as we are able to do that in a robust and reliable manner”.
Carlaw said the Scottish government’s policy on testing had been “dither, delay and distract” from the start, and that current testing capacity was being “squandered”. He cited one major provider, Renaissance Care, which claims that less than half of its staff have been tested for Covid-19, despite a commitment from the health secretary, Jeane Freeman, two weeks ago that all staff would be routinely tested.
The Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard, highlighted what he described as a “consistent disconnect between parliamentary pronouncements and the reality”, referencing cases of care workers still being refused testing unless they are displaying Covid-19 symptoms.
In reply to another question, Sturgeon said she had “huge sympathy” for proposals for a national care service, after some MSPs suggested that greater public control of care homes could facilitate the broader reforms that the current crisis has highlighted are desperately needed.
Sturgeon has previously guaranteed that the promised public inquiry into the Scottish government’s response to the pandemic would “undoubtedly include what happened in care homes”.
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