A bereaved son whose mother died in a Covid-hit Fife care home has warned authorities they will soon have nowhere to hide over their handling of the pandemic.
Alan Wightman, whose 88-year-old mum Helen passed away after contracting coronavirus in Scoonie House in Leven in May, described NHS Fife’s inability to provide swift answers on the number of the region’s care homes with current cases as “baffling” after The Courier pressed the health board on the situation this week.
The issue came to the fore when visiting was suspended at Craigie House Care Home in Crossgates following the emergence of 25 positive cases among staff and residents.
While neighbouring NHS Tayside was able to provide numbers on the prevalence of Covid in care homes, NHS Fife was unable to do the same – and still had not provided the information by Friday afternoon.
Mr Wightman, from Forfar, who is now actively campaigning for the Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice group, said the lack of transparency simply bolstered calls for a rapid public inquiry into Covid deaths in care homes thus far to avoid a similar scenario over the winter months.
“The response from NHS Fife to your questions is a little baffling.
“Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice (CBF4J) have been calling for a rapid phase public inquiry into Covid deaths in care homes since June.
“On Wednesday, the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly for such an inquiry.
“Prior to that the Scottish Government had been assuring us that lessons were being learned without the need for such an inquiry.
“If that were true, it seems odd to me that NHS Fife could not provide the information requested.
“Also, the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service is conducting an investigation into Covid related deaths in care homes.
“So, official bodies will not for much longer be able to fob off bereaved relatives with non-answers to such questions.
“I urge NHS Fife to get themselves better organised to provide full and honest answers to the probing questions heading their way. Bereaved families want and deserve answers.”
An update to Fife councillors earlier this week suggested 100% of the region’s care homes were submitting data to Fife’s health and social care partnership weekly and there is a “consistent” daily submission rate of 95% from homes across the region.
“These submissions are clinically scrutinised and support is provided where required,” a report to councillors stressed.
“Community primary care staff and community nursing staff continue to contact the care homes by GP cluster group once a week to compliment this response and maintain and build on close working relationships.”
The Scottish Government has denied any secrecy around the matter and said that a full public inquiry will be carried out “to consider all the issues involving care homes and their residents”.
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