Residents and staff at a Dundee care home are being put at increased risk by coronavirus testing failures, it has been claimed.
Workers at Benvie Care Home have not been offered follow-up tests for weeks, despite a Scottish Government promise to carry out swabs every seven days.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman made the pledge after evidence from health officials suggested workers moving between homes were the main vectors of the disease.
It added to an initial promise to test all staff and residents at homes where there is a suspected case.
The Lochee home’s management notified NHS Tayside of a confirmed case on May 11 and the specially-formed Care Home Rapid Action Group carried out tests on all staff and residents three days later.
Five residents and five staff tested positive but no further tests have been completed and since the first confirmed case, five residents have died.
Some of those who tested positive were asymptomatic.
It is understood public health minister and Dundee City West MSP Joe Fitzpatrick is so concerned about the health board’s ability to implement the policy he has written to NHS Tayside director of public health Drew Walker.
A relative of a Benvie resident who tested negative for the virus said he has been fighting to ensure adequate testing for weeks.
He said: “The staff have gone above and beyond throughout all this. I can’t fault the home in any way.
“I feel they have been treated appallingly and for the Scottish Government to put out the message that testing is rapid is deceitful.
“I was led to believe the staff would be retested but when I checked after two weeks, none had. My family are very upset because we feel the public is being lied to.”
Dundee Labour councillor Michael Marra said the apparent failures are “deeply worrying”.
He said: “Public trust in the Scottish Government is absolutely vital at this time.
“Yet here we have the First Minister and the Health Minister announcing testing policy and weeks later local health authorities are not following that policy. We need to know why these tests have not been put in place.
“Lives of care home residents and staff have been lost as a result of botched policy making from the Scottish Government.
“To now have the Minister for Public Health asking his local health broad why they are not implementing national health policy is farcical.
“As we move to test and trace the ability to deliver testing effectively is critical so this kind of situation is deeply worrying for the whole population.”
Benvie Care Home could not be reached for comment.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “As the First Minister and the Chief Nursing Officer made clear at Tuesday’s briefing, routine repeat testing should be available to care homes now.
“Every care home should have access to testing for every member of staff, every week and local delivery is being monitored by multi-agency scrutiny bodies made up of clinical and care professionals at NHS boards and local authorities.
“Following meetings with NHS Tayside, additional resources are being put in place to address any local challenges, including making use of mobile testing units and the UK Care Home Hub.
“These should ensure sufficient testing is available to local care homes with immediate effect, and we will continue to proactively engage with care homes through the accountability of NHS Boards.”
An NHS Tayside spokesperson said: “All residents and staff in Benvie Care Home were tested on May 13 and 14. NHS Tayside’s Health Protection Team continues to liaise closely with the managers there to provide advice and support to the care home.
“Testing is ongoing in care homes across Tayside on a daily basis. Where there is a new report of one or more confirmed cases of Covid-19 in a care home, this triggers testing for all staff and residents – including linked homes.
“From 11 May, when enhanced testing in care homes was introduced in Tayside, all residents and staff in four care homes have been tested. A further six care homes have been prioritised for testing and this will be offered… over the next week.”
“There are around 6,000 care home staff in Tayside… Therefore, NHS Tayside has welcomed Scottish Government confirmation that the 13 Mobile Testing Units… will offer additional capacity.”
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