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:
- 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
- We know from BBC Scotland’s own report that the Skye care home outbreak was associated with ‘a large dependency on agency staff‘: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-52546673
- 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.https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/coronavirus-kills-six-and-leaves-dozens-seriously-ill-at-skye-care-home-3g70vxbf6
- 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