26 June 2020

The families of those who have lost their lives to coronavirus in Scotland’s care homes deserve answers from the Scottish Government, Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard said today at First Minister’s Questions.

Richard Leonard highlighted the serious concerns of the Scottish Human Rights Commission over the Scottish Government’s approach to care homes during the COVID-19 crisis, especially guidance, in place until the 15th of May, to not admit care home residents if they were suspected of carrying coronavirus.

Speaking in the chamber, Richard Leonard raised the case of Margaret Laidlaw: “But it is not just Scotland’s Human Rights Commission who have questions, there are many grieving families who desperately want answers too.

“This week I was in contact with the family of Margaret Laidlaw. Margaret was living in an intermediate care home until late April when her family were informed that she would be moved to Drummond Grange Care Home in Midlothian. Both homes had residents with Covid-19. Not long after moving Margaret caught the virus.

“She was kept in the home because her family were told, that because of the government’s policy, she would not be treated in hospital. Within weeks Margaret sadly passed away. She was 65 years old.”

Calling on the First Minister to acknowledge the damage that government guidance inflicted, Richard Leonard said: “Her family are angry. They want to know why, why the care home was so unprepared and they want to know why, why hospital care was not available.

“Sadly, Margaret’s story has been all too common. So, what does the First Minister have to say to the family of Margaret and families like them? And do you regret that it took so long for the government’s official advice to be replaced?”

Responding, the First Minister passed on her condolences to the family of Margaret Laidlaw and acknowledged that they were entitled to answers but stated that it was the decision of clinicians, not government guidance, that was to blame.

The daughter of Margaret Laidlaw has said: “Our mum meant the world to us and she was still so young. To be taken so soon from us has devastated our family. Mum was a lovely lady who lived for her family.

“We were told that we couldn’t visit to minimise the risk of COVID-19, however my mum was moved from a care home where she was happy to a care home where she didn’t know anyone and where she got COVID-19. “This should never have been allowed, but the clinical guidance allowed for it to happen and it is still happening.

If she was at home with us she would have been shielding, but guidance to care homes was different meaning that rather than mum being kept safe in one home, it was deemed acceptable to move to another home putting my mum at risk. At a time when the First Minister was saying about stay home to save lives, my mum wasn’t given that protection.

“My brothers and I want answers and we want to ensure that other families do not have to go through the same pain we currently are.

I hope that the First Minister will listen to my family and the many other families who are demanding not just answers, but also action to prevent any more deaths from COVID-19.”

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