The Scotsman yesterday, prompted by the Tory health spokesman, selects the news in an attempt to transfer responsibility from the owners onto the Scottish Government and by association the SNP:
Missing from the Scotsman report is any wider investigation into the care home owners HC-One.
Leaving aside HC-One’s relatively high death rate across the country reported widely in the Guardian and BBC UK (below), this site near Bathgate had worrying signs in its September 2019 inspection report.
Overall, care was only rated ‘adequate’, there were not enough staff and the site was ‘maladorous.’
The second point is key in the management of infections and was at the root of the problems at the HC-One home in Skye, where agency staff were brought in from as far away as Kent.
Given that the use of agency staff has been identified in more than one research study, as the main cause of outbreaks, why did the Scotsman not investigate this as opposed to just relying on a Conservative party spokesman?
There is evidence that Covid was actually seeded throughout the network of care homes by agency staff:
- An ONS study of 9 081 care homes in England found this: These emerging findings reveal some common factors in care homes with higher levels of infections amongst residents.These include prevalence of infection in staff, some care home practices such as more frequent use of bank or agency nurses or carers, and some regional differences (such as higher infection levels within care homes in London and the West Midlands). There is some evidence that in care homes where staff receive sick pay, there are lower levels of infection in residents. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/articles/impactofcoronavirusincarehomesinenglandvivaldi/26mayto19june2020#main-points
- The charitable MHA with a presence in Scotland did research into its own homes and discovered this: Large numbers of staff could have been unknowingly spreading coronavirus through care homes, according to the UK’s largest charitable care home provider. Data from MHA shows 42% of its staff members who recently tested positive were not displaying symptoms. Nearly 45% of residents who had a positive test were also asymptomatic. The MHA Chief Executive said: I think it’s very difficult not to see that the only real way that this can have come into our homes is through staff picking it up, just through the community contacts they would have had. I think that is what is so hard for all our staff, because they care. But if they don’t know they’ve contracted the virus, how can you manage this?https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52912538
There is also evidence that: deaths in the care home sector are the result of the policies of previous governments (casualised, low paid staff), rather than badly handled short term interventions by the current government, for example rapidly discharging potentially infectious patients from NHS hospitals into care homes: