Full breakdown of all 618 Covid-19 linked deaths in Edinburgh and Lothian care homes since start of pandemic

New Crown Office figures have revealed there were at least 618 Covid-linked deaths in care homes across Edinburgh and the Lothians since the start of the pandemic.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 9:28 am

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The data was obtained by the BBC from the Crown Office unit set up last May to gather information on the circumstances surrounding Covid deaths in Scotland’s care homes. It shows the prosecution service was considering at least 3,400 deaths linked to the virus as of April 8.

An interactive dashboard created by the BBC shows every confirmed and presumed Covid-linked death for each care home in Scotland.

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Rodger Laing died after testing positive for Covid-19 at Drummond Grange nursing home. These pictures show Mr Laing just hours before he died, and in better times just a few weeks before his death.
Rodger Laing died after testing positive for Covid-19 at Drummond Grange nursing home. These pictures show Mr Laing just hours before he died, and in better times just a few weeks before his death.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently acknowledged that, with the benefit of hindsight, it was a mistake to move large numbers of elderly from hospitals into care homes last spring.

Data shows there were at least 333 Covid-linked deaths recorded across 44 Edinburgh care homes, 116 deaths at 13 homes in West Lothian, 71 deaths in 12 East Lothian facilities and 98 deaths spread across six Midlothian homes.

Dalkeith pensioner Rodger Laing was moved from Midlothian Community Hospital to Drummond Grange Nursing Home, Lasswade, in May last year. Just three weeks later, he died after picking up Covid-19. One day after his death, care inspectors found serious issues there with PPE and infection control.

Mr Laing’s family claim he was transferred against their will to free up hospital beds, despite them highlighting fears over the virus already being in the care home. The 80-year-old, who had dementia, tested negative for Covid when he left hospital. The Crown Office figures show there were 21 Covid-linked deaths at Drummond Grange, the second highest in Midlothian.

One in five workers at elderly care homes have not had their first Covid jab as restrictions on visitors are set to ease in days (Shutterstock).

Speaking on Monday, his son Rodney Laing said: “It was the wrong time to move people, especially in the middle of lockdown. It caused massive carnage.”

Mr Laing said he later heard that the hospital ward his father had been moved out of was lying empty two months after his father’s death. He says he was told it would be used to rehabilitate Covid patients.

The 49-year-old continued: “It was very upsetting to the family when we heard this. My father was shifted out to a nursing home to his death.”

Morag Barrow, director of health and social care at the Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership, said when a patient is medically assessed to be well enough to leave hospital, they will work closely with the patient and family to arrange a care home placement. Ms Barrow said appropriate consent processes are followed with this process. They could not comment on the individual case but said: “I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family.”

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to serve a full five-year term if re-elected as Scotland’s First Minister – but refused to say if she may run for another term in office after that.

Mr Laing’s family do not know how he contracted Covid but they were concerned when they received pictures of their father sitting in a lounge and kissing a therapy doll, as well as hoovering a carpet, when they felt he should have been isolated.

Barchester, the care home operator, said at the time it had concerns about the Care Inspectorate report and insisted the home, which cared for highly dependent people, followed government guidance at all times and that PPE stocks were full and staff trained and experienced in infection control.

They also said new residents are cared for in line with Health ProtectionScotland guidance on isolation and barrier nursing and that it would be distressing for residents with cognitive impairment not to have comforting items available to them.

Where were the Covid care home deaths?

There have been more than 10,000 Covid-related deaths in Scotland and about a third have occurred in care homes.

The Crown Office data is part of a wider review to determine if the deaths should be the subject of a fatal accident inquiry or prosecution. It is also collated from a wider number of sources than the National Records for Scotland figures which recorded 3,292 Covid related care home deaths up to April 8.

For confidentiality reasons, the exact number of Covid deaths has not been revealed at some care homes if there have been less than five recorded.

The Erskine Home facility in Bishopton, bear Glasgow, recorded the largest number of Covid related deaths (32) in Scotland.

In Edinburgh, at least 333 Covid-linked deaths were recorded across 44 homes. Braid Hills Nursing Centre had the highest number of Covid-linked deaths - 25 - followed by Guthrie House with 24 and Victoria Manor Nursing Home with 23.

Northcare Manor registered 19 deaths, Castlegreen had 18 and The Elms, St. Margaret’s Care Home and Manor Grange Care Home each had 15. Blenham House Care Home recorded 14 deaths, Letham Park Care Home had 13, Cairdean House had 12 and Clovenstone House had 11.

Ten deaths were recorded each at Queens Bay Lodge, Marionville Court and Gilmerton while Thorburn Manor Nursing Home, Lorimer House Nursing Home, Jewel House, Cluny Lodge Nursing Home and Camilla House each had nine deaths.

Forthland Lodge Care Home recorded eight deaths while Trinity House Care Home, Royston Court and Eagle Lodge each recorded six deaths. Five deaths were recorded at Lennox House and Ashley Court Care Home.

Another 18 care homes across the city recorded less than five Covid-linked deaths. These were: Strachan House Care Home, St. Raphael’s Care Home, Sir James McKay House, Northcare Suites, North Merchiston, Murrayside, Morlich House, Milford House Care Home, Inch View, Glencairn, Fords Road Home for Older People, Ferrylee, Drumbrae Care Home, Davidson House, Cramond Residence, Canal View Care, Braeside House, Belgrave Lodge Nursing Home.

In Midlothian, at least 98 deaths were recorded in six homes. Drummond Grange had the second highest toll with (21) after Springfield Bank Nursing Home in Bonnyrigg, which had 23. Archview Lodge Care Home recorded 18 deaths while Thornlea Nursing Home and Newbyres Village Nursing Home both had 15, with Highbank recording six.

In December, Thornlea’s licence was suspended at Edinburgh Sheriff Court following serious concerns raised during an inspection.

There were at least 116 Covid related deaths recorded across 13 care homes in West Lothian. Meadowvale Care Home in Bathgate was highest with 19 deaths followed by Redmill Nursing Home with 18.

Woodlands nursing home had 15 deaths while Livingston Nursing Home recorded 14. Heatherfield Nursing Home had 13 deaths, Middleton Hall Care Home had 12 and Peacock Nursing Home had 11. Whitdale House and Linlithgow Care Home care home each recorded five deaths.

Holmesview, Craigmair Interim Care Home, Burngrange Care Home and Broxburn Nursing Home each recorded less than five Covid related deaths.

In East Lothian, there were at least 71 Covid-linked deaths recorded across 12 homes. The worst hit was Drummohr Nursing Home in Wallyford with 20 deaths. Tranent Care Home had 17 deaths, with Tyneholm Stables registering 15, Eskgreen with seven and Haddington Care Home with five.

The Abbey, St. Anne’s, Muirfield, Hilton Lodge, Florabank, Crookston, Cramond Residence and Astley House each recorded one Covid related death.

The full picture of how many Covid-linked deaths there have been in each Scottish care home had been unclear since the start of the pandemic. There is no statutory obligation for homes to notify residents, or their families, of an outbreak or deaths.

The data shows the worst affected homes are located in parts of Scotland which had high transmission rates of the virus during the pandemic.

Separate Crown Office data shows 824 of the reports relate to deaths which occurred before the creation of the Covid-19 Deaths Investigation Team (CDIT) in May last year. This was a period when elderly people were being discharged from hospital to care homes, a robust testing system was not in place and there was not a full understanding of asymptomatic transmission.

On Sunday, Ms Sturgeon called for a UK-wide public inquiry into the pandemic by the end of 2021 - and said she would move ahead with a Scottish-only probe if that could not be agreed in good time.

Health secretary jeane Freeman also previously said the right precautions had not been taken when older people were being moved from hospital to care homes.

‘We need a public inquiry’

A spokesperson for Scottish Care told the BBC the data "demonstrates the terrible toll" which has been felt by residents, families and care home workers over the past 13 months.

The spokesperson said they regret “insufficient attention” was given to the needs of the care sector when compared to the preparation given to the NHS, adding: “Social care as a whole was let down in the early stages of the pandemic, not least by the failures to introduce testing of staff and residents earlier."

GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith said concerns raised by care home staff before the first lockdown were “dismissed and even derided” by the Scottish government and care industry representatives.

Mr Smith said: “The reality is that while ministers were clapping for carers, staff were having to fight for the proper PPE and workplace testing, the basic tools needed to try and protect their health and safety and their service users too.

“We need a public inquiry where the inaction of all responsible will be laid bare.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said the Crown Office data was "consistent with the findings" of a Public Health Scotland report which "did not find statistical evidence that hospital discharges of any kind were associated with care home outbreaks".

She added: "We mourn every death from Covid and express our sympathy for all those who have lost loved ones, and for the distress and grief experienced by individuals and their families.

"As the first minister and health secretary have previously said the Scottish government will continue to learn lessons from the Covid-pandemic and, subject to the outcome of the election, intends to have a full public inquiry which considers all aspects of how the pandemic has been handled, including the impact on care homes and their residents."

The spokeswoman added that "saving people's lives has been and continues to be the priority of the Scottish government" and the prioritisation of the vaccination programme in care homes means that since the peak in late January, deaths in care homes have fallen by 95 percent.

A spokesman for the Crown Office said CDIT is working with other agencies like the Health and Safety Executive and Care Inspectorate to ensure appropriate investigations are undertaken into the deaths. and "CDIT is working together with other agencies including the Health and Safety Executive, local authorities and the Care Inspectorate to ensure that appropriate investigations are undertaken in relation to these deaths.

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