A desperate son may have been wrongly barred from visiting his lonely 91-year-old mum in a care home amid confusion over cross-border Covid rules.
Ian Simpson lives in Angus, just five miles from Winnie — a resident at Dundee’s council-run Menzieshill House care home.
Back-to-back visits have been cancelled at the last minute over fears they would breach the Scottish Government’s strict pandemic travel guidance between council areas.
This is despite Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch appearing to suggest care home visits are exempt from the travel rule in a recent radio interview.
NHS Tayside has confirmed “essential visits” by loved ones should be permitted by care homes.
Ian, 54, described preventing his elderly mum from seeing her sons as “sick” and a possible breach of her human rights.
He said: “Does Covid-19 know the difference between Fowlis and Dundee?
“Is this really justified? I live in DD2, which is the same postcode as her. I can actually see Ninewells Hospital, where her home is, from my village.
“Under this reasoning, if I lived a few miles closer within Dundee, it would be fine for me to visit her.
“It’s bonkers. I think someone needs to be accountable for these kinds of decisions.”
Ian’s brother, who lives in Perth and Kinross, is also being prevented from visiting Winnie, meaning she will have no visitors until the rules are relaxed.
She is also hard-of-hearing so talking on the phone proves difficult.
The last time the pair visited her was two weeks ago in an outside setting prior to the new tier system being introduced on November 2.
Prof Leitch suggested such a visit should be permitted when speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Off the Ball programme on Saturday.
When asked to clarify whether someone can travel to another tier area to visit a parent in a care home, Mr Leitch said: “Absolutely they can, that’s one of the exemptions to tier travel restrictions.
“You can move for work, education, for a funeral for example, and for caring visits whether that’s in someone’s home or a care home or hospice.”
The official guidance on the Scottish Government’s website does not specifically list care home visits as an exemption.
However, it does state travel for “healthcare, social care, childcare and other essential services” is permitted.
Ian added his mother is struggling mentally with the situation.
“When I manage to get her on the phone, I can tell she is depressed. I worry she is slipping and I fear she could disappear at any moment.
“There will be thousands of families and residents across Scotland in the same situation.”
A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said: “We understand that not being able to visit loved ones is upsetting for families and residents and that is why our Public Health team is working closely with care homes across Tayside.
“Our public health team recognises that essential visits are incredibly important for people’s health and wellbeing and are following national guidance which states that essential visits are permitted and should be facilitated by care homes where possible.
“Examples of essential visits include to prevent or respond to residents’ health and wellbeing changing for the worse, to help with communication and/or distress, or allowing important time with loved ones who are approaching end of life.
“Where there is a positive case of Covid-19 identified in a care home, visiting will be suspended to protect residents.”
A Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership spokesperson said: “We are liaising with Public Health about this issue.”