Did more die in the private care homes?

In the Guardian today:

Covid-19 death tolls at individual care homes are being kept secret by regulators in part to protect providers’ commercial interests before a possible second coronavirus surge, the Guardian can reveal. England’s Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Care Inspectorate in Scotland are refusing to make public which homes or providers recorded the most fatalities amid fears it could undermine the UK’s care system, which relies on private operators.

In May, prompted by the coordinated attempts to blame the Scottish Government for alleged failures in guidance, hospital discharges and in PPE supply, by private care home owners with links to the Conservative party, the Labour/GMB collective, and the MSM, I tried to answer the question:

Are most deaths in private care homes?

Though incomplete, the data seemed then to suggest the answer was yes. Here’s what I found:

There had been 1 438 covid-related deaths in care homes up to 10th May: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-52214177

There seem to be no data breaking these down into council, voluntary and private care homes, so the following set of media reports, from an exhaustive search, is the only source we have at the moment. At best this gives us an impression of the situation and should not be considered a definitive answer to the question in the headline.

I should declare an obvious bias here in my research agenda. I suspect that when all the data are in, the answer will be ‘yes’ but have tried to find what is there in the data available online.

There are 291 voluntary [not for profit] sector, 232 local authority and 727 private care homes in Scotland.


This survey found evidence of coronavirus deaths in 15 private homes, 6 council/local authority and 1 voluntary home. Crude ratios are of limited value here but private homes certainly predominate, council run homes do feature but the voluntary homes run by, for example, the Church of Scotland, do not. There are many qualifying reservations you could make about these data. One obvious one would be, I think (no data), the lifetime background of disadvantage and the higher risk of death from coronavirus of those dependent on the council-run homes.

A rare objective statistic is in the data on complaints with private care homes complained about 4 times more often pro rata (taking into account the relative numbers) than voluntary or local authority homes:


Here are the reported cases:

Private: Castle View Dumbarton HC-One: 8 deaths: https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/scotland/care-home-denies-equipment-criticisms-as-eight-deaths-are-linked-to-covid-19/

Private: Highgate Glasgow HC-One: 22 deaths: https://www.glasgowtimes.co.uk/news/18444796.highgate-care-home-feels-pain-22-coronavirus-deaths/

Private: Home Farm Skye HC-One: 9 deaths: https://news.stv.tv/highlands-islands/eighth-resident-dies-at-coronavirus-hit-care-home-in-skye?top

Private: Barchester, Peterhead: 5 deaths: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-52704518

Private: Kingdom Homes Kirkcaldy: 14 deaths: https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/death-14-residents-fife-care-21981806

Private: Burlington Court, Four Seasons: 13 deaths: https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/scotland/covid-19-linked-to-13-deaths-at-scottish-care-home/

Private: Barchester South Grange Nursing Home in Monifieth: 20 deaths: https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/1312351/shock-death-rate-at-angus-care-homes-leads-to-call-for-scottish-government-to-take-responsibility/

Private: Pitkerro Care Home Dundee: 10 deaths: https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/video-council-leader-says-dundee-care-home-deaths-linked-to-covid-19-horrendous-and-devastating/

Private: Elderslie Care Home in Paisley: 22 deaths: https://www.renfrewshire24.co.uk/2020/04/27/22-coronavirus-related-deaths-at-paisley-care-home/

Private: Mosswood Care Home, in Linwood: 3 deaths: https://www.the-gazette.co.uk/news/18401845.coronavirus-third-renfrewshire-pandemic-deaths-care-homes/

Private: Milngavie Manor Care Home: 4 deaths: https://www.milngavieherald.co.uk/news/more-heartache-four-residents-die-covid-19-milngavie-care-home-2856756

Private: Berelands Priory: 20 deaths: https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/scotland/covid-19-linked-to-13-deaths-at-scottish-care-home/

Private: West Acres Glasgow: 14 deaths: https://www.thejc.com/community/community-news/coronavirus-deaths-at-glasgow-care-home-as-scotland-s-jews-grapple-with-pandemic-1.499328

Private: Almond Court Glasgow: 5 deaths: https://www.expressandstar.com/news/uk-news/2020/04/13/fourth-scottish-care-home-reports-deaths-in-coronavirus-outbreak/

Private: Hill View Dalmuir: 9 deaths: https://www.clydebankpost.co.uk/news/18400498.coronavirus-half-west-dunbartonshire-deaths-care-homes/

Council: Saltgreens Care Home Borders: 5 deaths: https://www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk/health/coronavirus/five-more-coronavirus-cases-confirmed-borders-taking-total-almost-260-2549936

Council: Bonnyton House, East Dunbarton: 11 deaths: https://www.barrheadnews.com/news/18457736.eleven-deaths-linked-covid-19-confirmed-east-renfrewshires-bonnyton-house/

Council: Crosslet House in Dumbarton: 15 deaths: https://www.clydebankpost.co.uk/news/18400498.coronavirus-half-west-dunbartonshire-deaths-care-homes/

Council: Bonnyton House, East Dunbarton: 11 deaths: https://www.barrheadnews.com/news/18457736.eleven-deaths-linked-covid-19-confirmed-east-renfrewshires-bonnyton-house/

Council: Jewel House Edinburgh: 9 deaths: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/health/nine-more-deaths-linked-covid-19-edinburgh-care-home-2550589

Council: Jewel House Edinburgh: 9 deaths: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/health/nine-more-deaths-linked-covid-19-edinburgh-care-home-2550589

Voluntary: Erskine homes: 24 deaths: https://news.stv.tv/scotland/coronavirus-24-deaths-at-veterans-charitys-care-homes?top

5 thoughts on “Did more die in the private care homes?”

  1. Not surprised “commercial interest” being quoted, were such data available it could potentially endanger the cash-cow for it’s investors, having been so carefully legislated by those very same investors to limit oversight from Thatcher onward.
    Yet the Kilgour/Pennington/etc campaign to attach blame to SG for all the tragedy visited upon care-homes is politically as well as commercially motivated, nowhere else in the UK does this situation prevail, so what is it that makes Scotland’s situation unique ? SNP ?
    The influence in Holyrood is profoundly disturbing – the free flow of accusations and innuendo regularly featuring as questions in parliament (early decant strategy, etc.), accompanied by demands for immediate answers from SG in advance of a formal inquiry is due to democratic or “commercial interest” ?
    Only an official inquiry may access Care Inspectorate information, and it is guaranteed “commercial interest” will prevail over public disclosure.
    Although the effects from private ownership may never be publicly known, there can be little doubt tighter regulation will follow, perhaps from London as Johnson saves his political backside.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. While I agree with the main thrust of your post, Bob, and I think we need a properly independent investigation to examine what actually happed with regard to care homes, I think both regulatory bodies are in a genuine dilemma here should there be a further substantial rise in the numbers infected by Covid19.

      Although hospitals responded heroically in coping with the first surge in numbers, had significant numbers of patients not been moved into care homes (and other forms of medical treatments reduced) we will need hospital capacity to deal with a further rise. Undoubtedly, much more is now known about how to treat patients and, in the current rise, the great majority of those infected are under 45 years, who, generally, experience less severe symptoms, so the pressure on hospitals might not be as great as earlier. In any case Louisa Jordan Hospital is still in place and, perhaps, those infected to go there rather than mainstream hospitals, but that will have an impact on the clearing of the backlog for other routine appointments. If there were a severe loss of confidence in particular private care homes then there would be pressure on hospital accommodation.

      Clearly, the supervisory authorities are much better informed than they were at the start of the outbreak and will, I hope, subject homes to greater scrutiny of standards. I would hope, too, the trade unions, such as the GMB, would focus more on ensuring that their members in care homes are equipped and paid to be able to respond effectively to the protection. I hope, too, that they will start to blow the whistle on the kinds of things that had been going on, strengthened by the knowledge that their members, in an ethos of greater scrutiny of homes, will not feel intimidated about speaking out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There is this information on the relative quality of care in different homes in different areas.
    Root and branch reform needed?


    This information, too. Some care homes have gone bust leaving the NHS to pick up the pieces. Big companies extract profit at every opportunity much more voaciously than the smaller not-for-profit homes. Root and branch reform needed.


    “In total the 18 largest for-profit providers owe 59.2% (£1.47bn) of their debts and pay 49.5% (£117m) of their annual interest payments to (often offshore) related companies. These debts are at high interest rates (typically 7-16%) which suggests that some of the money going out as debt ‘costs’ is a form of hidden profit extraction and a method of tax avoidance.

    As with debt, rent payments are often to related companies which makes it hard to discern whether the rent paid is reasonable, or a way of moving profits to (often offshore) related property companies. 7 of the 18 largest for-profit providers spend between 15-32% of their income on rent payments, totalling £264m a year. This stands in marked contrast to the 8 largest not-for-profit providers, which spend an aggregate of 2% of their income on rent, totalling £25m a year.

    Taken together, the significant amounts being spent by some of the largest for-profit care home providers on rent and debt payments to related companies obscures transparency over how profitable they really are, making it hard to understand how much extra money they actually need to continue operating and make a fair return. In addition, the high levels of debt loaded onto care home beds threatens their financial sustainability, with gearing levels of almost 600% common for some.”

    Liked by 3 people

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