Care home deaths spark fears old and infirm are being denied hospital care

An investigation must be launched into why 13 care home residents who died from coronavirus were not taken to hospital, a charity claimed last night.

The deadly outbreak happened at Burlington Court, in Cranhill, Glasgow, sparking fears the victims’ age was a factor in hospital admission.

Scottish Labour’s shadow health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said last night: “If this could happen at one care home, it could happen in others.

“We must make sure a coronavirus timebomb is not being created among some of our most vulnerable people.”

Age Scotland said there should be an inquiry into why the OAPs were not transferred to the nearest available infirmary for specialist treatment.



Workers clean outside surfaces in Largs, Aryshire

CEO Brian Sloan said: “We’d like to know whether age played a factor in the decision-making process in this case.

“We strongly believe someone’s age or the fact they are a care home resident should not be used as a proxy for their health status. We would be very concerned if any blanket policies were applied to decide whether or not someone is admitted to hospital.”

The deaths happened over seven days at the facility, which is run by care provider Four Seasons Health Care.

Two members of staff are currently ill and 25 workers at the home have been self-isolating. Eight will return today and tomorrow.

Burlington Court looks after 90  residents with complex medical needs such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Leading politicians also called for a probe into how the care home residents were medically treated prior to their deaths.

Lennon said: “There must be an investigation into this outbreak which has claimed 13 lives so far – including why none of the residents were transferred to hospital.

“The Scottish Government has rushed out ‘ethical guidance’ in recent days, sparking fears that older people with Covid-19 will not have access to treatment.

“There has also been pressure put on some older people to sign ‘Do not resuscitate’ agreements.

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“Health Secretary Jeane Freeman insists that our hospitals have enough ventilators and intensive care beds.

“She must confirm that no one is being denied access to them on the basis of their age.”

Greens MSP Patrick Harvie said: “There is a question as to why none of these cases were admitted to hospital.

“The relatives of the deceased, and other residents, have a right to know how the best care possible will be delivered.”

The Care Inspectorate said it was aware of the case and said it expected everyone to be treated equally, regardless of age.

A spokesperson added: “Everyone in Scotland has the right to good-quality, safe and compassionate care, and we expect care services to ensure people get the medical care they need no matter what the circumstances.”

Funerals for the 13 dead will begin tomorrow.

Reverend Muriel Pearson, of Cranhill Parish Church, said: “It will be very small gatherings.

“It has been distressing not to be able to visit the bereaved and talk about their loss, although we have talked on the phone.”

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde refused to comment.

Four Seasons Health Care did not say why none of the residents had been taken to hospital. However, a care home source said decisions to transfer sick residents is normally made between next of kin and their GP.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected as well as the staff and wider community.

“These are unpreceded times and our social care sector is working under very challenging circumstances to care for people during the pandemic.”

The deaths come as infectious diseases expert warned the Government may need to choose between saving lives and “lifting the lid” on coronavirus to save the economy.

Dr Sam Allen, a leading expert on infectious diseases, has said the only “exit strategy” from Covid-19 pandemic is a vaccine or letting the infection run its course by removing lockdown controls.

He said taking the “clamp off” sections of the population or allowing the disease to spread quickly be the might be alternatives if an inoculation is not found quickly enough.

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Dr Allen added: “Restrictions are obviously economically frustrating because the longer you have them in place the greater the economic and social consequences.”

The consultant physician in infectious diseases for NHS Ayrshire and Arran added: “The exit solution most countries are looking at is a vaccine and getting that rolled out as quickly as possible.

“But that is not straightforward – we’ve had coronaviruses since the 1960 but there has not been a vaccine to date.

“Just creating a vaccine is only the first step. It takes time to manufacture to scale.

“An intermittent lockdown is one approach, where you take the clamp off for a few weeks then put it back on again.

“The alternative is speeding up the spread of the virus. You can take the lid off self-isolation measures but then a large number of people will get very ill.”

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Coronavirus in Scotland

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will review the lockdown on April 13.

Professor Graham Medley, the Government’s chief pandemic modeller, warned that a prolonged lockdown risks causing more harm than the virus.

He said the United Kingdom had “painted itself into a corner” and should reconsider herd immunity.

Imperial College London, which had been advising the Government oncoronavirus, predicted 500,000 people could die without social distancing.

It is hoped that lockdown conditions could limit deaths to 20,000.



Construction of the Louisa Jordon Hospital at Glasgow’s SEC

Professor Neil Ferguson, the institute’s lead modeller, yesterday said social distancing could be relaxed by the end of May if people continue to observe the lockdown rules.

He told the BBC’s Today programme: “I don’t think anyone wants to lift measures at the current time and risk the epidemic getting worse.

“But if we see a rapid decline in cases, then of course the Government will consider if they can relax those measures and modify certain measures in a way which is safe and still ensures the epidemic goes down.”


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