The repeated attempts to blame care home deaths on the Scottish Government are largely foundered on the rocks of emerging evidence, that agency care staff inadvertently spread the virus in the first weeks (PHE, BHA) and that testing of those discharged patients or staff who were asymptomatic would have been unreliable and thus ineffective.

Now, long suspected and rumoured, the issue of inadequate infection control in the care homes must surely finish-off the attempts of the likes of Carlaw, Murray and Leonard to lay the blame at the feet of the First Minister.

No expert myself, I had thought that surely the care homes had decades-long experience of good infection control procedures for the flu or norovirus and should need no special advice. More than a month ago, we had drawn attention to references to inadequate infection control in the inspection report for the Skye care home where so many were to die:

The Health Secretary has been hinting at this for some time but holding back. Things are coming to a head now.

The Herald’s David Bol wrote yesterday:

Jeane Freeman has suggested that it would be a “reasonable conclusion” that care home operators failing to put effective infection controls in place has contributed to the spread of Covid-19 in the institutions. 

I can find no use of that phrase anywhere in the text of the Health Committee meeting on the 2nd June. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place? The Health Secretary did say this:

At all times—before the pandemic and since it began—all care homes should have adequate infection prevention and control measures in place. We all know that, every winter, people in care homes suffer from norovirus to varying degrees, that flu is a seasonal occurrence in winter and that older residents are particularly vulnerable to both of those. Therefore, all care homes should have very clear and up-to-date infection prevention and control measures.

In addition, in the current situation, the guidance that was issued on 13 March was very clear, and every piece of guidance that has been issued subsequently has been very clear. Individuals should be isolated in their own rooms for 14 days if they have symptoms of Covid-19 or have come from a Covid-19 setting. That should happen even if they had tested negative, in order to be sure that no symptoms emerge. There is growing knowledge of the range of symptoms in older people, in particular, which appear to differ from those of people in different age groups.

As well as all the guidance on the ending of communal activity, communal dining and so on, in recent weeks our directors of public health and our national health service clinical teams have been directly involved in ensuring that all care homes are meeting the requirements that they should have been meeting for some considerable time.

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 02 June 2020 [Draft]

Watch this space.