Care home deaths:The lies that will not die

These notions that care home deaths in Scotland have been higher than elsewhere in the UK and that hospital discharges were to blame, derive from faulty statistics headlined across the media, months ago.

Last night, on Question Time, Douglas Ross was allowed to repeat both myths unchallenged.

Research from the University of Stirling, published in August demolished the first argument:

Care homes in England experienced the highest increase in excess deaths at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to those in the rest of the UK, according to new research. A study – co-ordinated from the University of Stirling’s Management School – found that care homes in England recorded a 79 percent increase in excess deaths, compared to 66 percent in Wales, 62 percent in Scotland and 46 percent in Northern Ireland.

As for the hospital discharges myth, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve posted the evidence demolishing that. There is no research evidence for it and these proving it wrong:

  1. 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?
  2. We know from BBC Scotland’s own report that the Skye care home outbreak was associated with ‘a large dependency on agency staff‘:
  3. Former BBC Scotland Head of News, John Boothman, now at the Times, wrote: HC-One, Britain’s largest care home chain and the operator of Home Farm, faces allegations that it paid insufficient heed to the [Scottish] government’s lockdown by parachuting workers in from as far away as Kent, 645 miles away, to plug staff shortages in a sector where pay is notoriously poor.
  4. 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.

12 thoughts on “Care home deaths:The lies that will not die

  1. Not having a licence I also watched last night
    And it is high time that those who peddle untruths are forcibly challenged
    If it was I Dross would have been torn to shreds as I hit him with UK.Gov.stats re infections,deaths etc pertaining to England and Scotland
    Far less the nefarious manipulations of such data by Westminster
    And if the weasel had dared to interrupt me whilst doing so I would ruthlessly cut him to size without quarter or mercy
    Informing him that he does afford me the opportunity to lay out the truth
    Then i would attend to him by other means once he left the studio
    But would the mouse be man enough
    Because quite simply we are talking now about a dead man walking and it is either you or I because in order to prevent me killing you
    It is I you will have to kill
    Now tak yer jecket aff BOY

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Agreed, the SG should be coming down on these falsehoods like the proverbial ton. By all accounts, though, it was still possibly the most satisfying QT ever. I must watch it.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. It’s just the ‘bone’ that the Unionists are trying to chew, and it should be laid to rest by the true stats about the Care homes (particularly the private ones).

    I’ve watched QT and was pleasantly surprised that Kate Forbes (our next FM??) took Dross to the cleaners. The ‘balance’ of representatives was not very fair, but, given the poor quality of the Con/Lab/Wood(sir!!)/Sage Wallah, it probably was acceptable.
    Poor old Fiona, never lets us down – nobody had mentioned anything about Sturgeon/Salmond yet she still tried to slip it in, but Kate was able to ignore it (in a quite masterful way!).

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Imagine if the SNP had suggested an outright lie on this show?
    They would have been interrupted, talked over and it would have made front page news in our colonial press.

    Drossy talks porky pies? That’s OK with the BEEB.


  5. This is based on research into English care homes. Much of what happens in privately run care homes in England is likely to happen in similar care homes in Scotland.

    There is considerable variation in the turnover of staff among private, voluntary and public run care homes. The industry average is 25% per year.

    Some staff are employed without adequate checks on immigration status. Immigration checks subsequently have led to some emergency home closures.

    When financially stretched (profits are leaked through rent and debt) in the private sector, the quality of care falls.

    Those working in the private care sector receive considerably lower rates of pay and benefits (sick pay, holiday pay and pensions) than in the public sector. Many are on zero hours contracts and receive less than the minimum wage.They have few, if any, qualifications.

    There is much more at this link.

    Click to access CHPI-SocialCare-Oct16-Proof01a.pdf

    There is some Swedish research making comparisons about the quality of care in private and public care homes. I am not sure that this has relevance to the UK.

    “The results indicate that public nursing homes have higher quality than privately operated homes with regard to two structural quality measures: staffing levels and individual accommodation. Privately operated nursing homes, on the other hand, tend to score higher on process-based quality indicators such as medication review and screening for falls and malnutrition.”

    It is pretty clear that the marketisation of the care sector does not work well or at all (care collapses). while the Scottish government is constrained with regard to the tools available to bring all social care into the public realm, I think it is fair to say that it has given no indication of a wish to do so. Until now.


  6. Re last night’s QT, I imagine that Kate Forbes knew all the stats shown above about deaths in care homes etc. , and I was very glad she didn’t waste her time on refuting wee ChubbyCheeks’ drivel. She was excellent, and I was glad to see she had an ally in another panel member, unlike the time she was invited onto BBC Teuchter’s Debate Night along with a serried rank of hostile unionists. Wee Dougie was pretty poor really, and Ian Wood was exactly as Tory as expected. And I think perhaps, though I wouldn’t have expected it, that Fiona was tellt to temper her own acerbity.


  7. Have not watched this programme as a matter of principle for many years now and while I agree with all the above comments my criticism is with many SNP spokespersons that I have witnessed over tthe last few months and Sturgeon is not immune either from this in that they seem to go into these programmes/interviews ill prepared to denounce these liars/lies. They are getting away with murder and it saddens me that many marginal voters are still being hoodwinked by these charlatans. If ever we need lessons to be learned it is the BBC and others are ill-equiped or complicit in this. With Sturgeon’s personal popularity well ahead of the rest and Indy support at its highest we need to step up our game or this lead will evaporate.


    1. BBC Scotland may be leaving too , I would not be surprised if BBC became just …the BBC , one channel covering the whole of the U.K.
      No more BBC Scotland
      No more BBC Wales
      No more BBC NI

      An addition to EVEL


  8. This care-home discharge unique to Scotland myth has been kept alive by the propagandists, now regurgitated by the Moray Motormouth on national TV, and nobody seems willing to shut it down.
    I’ll say AGAIN for the umpteenth time, this was UK national policy written into the emergency Covid legislation before SG then diverged from it and built their own advice team.
    Look it up, it’s there in black and white.


  9. Bbc Radio 4 about 10.10pm. Alan Wilson head of Institute of Biomedical Science analysing Covid Testing in England, finding fault with slow turn around from UK run Lighthouse Labs.

    Contrast with BBC’s Radio Scotland John Beattie’s Drivetime, a constant stream of pub, hotel and restruarant owners rubbishing the Scottish Government and their Chief Clinical Officer Often followed by an odd ball Scientist reccomending Herd immunity. Always followed by Beatit asking the audience to text in their thoughts . . . . When he really means attacks on Scot Gov.


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