An East Kilbride care home where 23 people have died from coronavirus still hasn’t had all residents and staff tested for the disease.
It comes after the East Kilbride News revealed last week that Whitehills Care Home – operated by Thistle Healthcare Ltd – had been reported to the Care Inspectorate by Labour MSP Monica Lennon.
The party’s health spokesperson branded the deaths “truly devastating” and said the “public deserves answers” over ongoing safety fears and why the disease has “spread like wildfire” in the home.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issued “enhanced outbreak investigation” instructions for health boards on May 1.
It meant all care homes with cases of COVID-19 should screen “all residents and staff, whether or not they have symptoms”.
But this has not yet happened at Whitehills say NHS Lanarkshire and the operators, with 27 staff having tested positive out of the ones that have been carried out.
Thistle Healthcare have previously hit out at difficulties over testing and the time taken for increased capacity in care homes saying that, along with a lack of PPE, it “created additional challenges” in managing the spread of the virus, despite efforts to isolate symptomatic individuals as soon as possible.
However, the family of a resident in the home are now backing Ms Lennon’s calls for an urgent independent investigation. The family – who don’t want to be named – said: “There seems to be such pressure to present a good image of the care home – maybe it is indeed staffed by angels and it’s just all been “bad luck”.
“But even in these pandemic times surely it had to reach a number of deaths where it would trigger some concern from somebody. Is everyone – myself included – just presuming this is the “new normal?”
Police Scotland has now confirmed it will support a dedicated Crown Office unit set up to probe COVID-19 deaths across all of the country’s care homes.
Gabe Docherty, director of public health and health policy at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “All symptomatic staff have been offered testing and a number of asymptomatic staff have been tested. All symptomatic residents have been offered testing.
“We have also initiated expanded testing in two of the six care home units.
“This includes testing of all asymptomatic residents and staff.”
A spokesman for the home said: “We introduced stringent infection control measures at the very beginning of this crisis, which have been endorsed by the Care Inspectorate.
“We are working closely with NHS Lanarkshire to finalise tests for all staff and residents. Testing is underway and has been requested for all remaining residents and staff.”