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Age Scotland response to Health Secretary's comment on social care sector

Published on 09 April 2021 02:19 PM

The national charity for older people has responded to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman’s admission that the Scottish Government failed the social care sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, saying the news comes as “no surprise”.

She said that the right precautions had not been taken when older people were being discharged from hospital to care homes with fatal consequences in many instances.

Age Scotland's Chief Executive, Brian Sloan, said:

“With a third of all Covid-related deaths occurring in care homes, the severe challenges faced in social care should have been a focal point in the national response to the pandemic right from the start.

“Sadly, this admission comes as no surprise, and further confirms the concerns we’ve been voicing for the past year.

“It was clear from the very beginning that care homes and the social care sector were on the front line of the fight against Covid-19, but the delay in recognising this and ensuring they were fully equipped to handle the situation caused significant problems. That first month of lockdown in particular was frantic for social care in terms of the lack of PPE, access to medical treatment, transfers from hospital, the removal of care packages overnight, and blanket Do Not Attempt Resuscitation decisions.

“When originally challenging the transfer of Covid-19 positive patients to care homes at the height of the pandemic, we were repeatedly assured of the protective measures being taken.

“As we hear more information and evidence, it has become apparent that the necessary safeguards which patients, residents, family members, care homes and the public relied on were not as robust as they should have been.

“Older people’s best interests and safety should have been at the heart of all decision-making, but has it been the case in reality?

“For many, this admission of accountability will be too little too late. There are still so many unanswered questions and, as we’ve repeatedly stressed, the only way to gain any closure and learn from mistakes is a full and thorough inquiry into Scotland’s handling of the pandemic. Decisions affecting care homes, and social care more broadly, have been central to the national response and, as such, must make up a key part of this investigation.”

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