Sturgeon promises action if care failures are proved

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon
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DEPUTY First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has vowed that the Scottish Government “will not hesitate” to take action if an investigation shows that a city pensioner was failed by problems in Scotland’s care system.

John Gibson, 90, was taken to hospital last week and later died after being found bleeding at his Claremont Bank home. He had allegedly been living in filthy conditions despite carers visiting his property up to four times a day.

The city council has since launched a probe into the care he was given by Mears PLC – a private company paid by the local authority to carry out visits to Mr Gibson and his 87-year-old sister, Thomasina.

Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm, below, who represents the Edinburgh North and Leith constituency where Mr Gibson lived, yesterday called for a full review of the way home care services are commissioned and delivered.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, he asked Ms Sturgeon – standing in for Alex Salmond – whether she was concerned that the private company appointed to look after the Gibsons had seen six complaints upheld by the Care Inspectorate since February alone.

Mr Chisholm said: “Employees of that and other home care companies seem to be overburdened with too many clients and too short a time.”

Ms Sturgeon described the case as a “serious matter”, before expressing her condolences to Mr Gibson’s friends and family on behalf of the chamber. She said: “I think it is absolutely essential that we have in place in this country a robust system of inspection. When I was Health Secretary, I took steps to strengthen the system of inspection that we have.

“My position is very clear – await the outcome of the investigation. If there is action to be taken to make the system that we have more robust then I can give Malcolm Chisholm an absolute assurance that this government will not hesitate to take those steps.”

As revealed by the News this week, the Care Inspectorate upheld a series of complaints in six separate cases against Mears. The company has said it is assisting the council with its investigation. The Care Inspectorate and Lothian and Borders Police are involved.

Mr Chisholm has also raised concerns with the council’s director of health and social care, Peter Gabbitas, about the case.