There have been more than 600 excess deaths not directly related to Covid-19 in care homes in the last seven weeks, according to analysis by Scottish Labour.
The party said National Records of Scotland statistics show there have been 608 deaths unrelated to the virus over that period, which it claims is “more than a third higher than the average for the last five years”.
When Covid-19 deaths are included that rate rises to more than double the five-year average, the party said.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard claimed “serious mistakes” have been made over testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and government guidance.
He said the Scottish Government has moved too slowly to act in care homes, and he urged ministers to put in place an emergency plan to get the NHS up and running again.
Mr Leonard said: “We owe an enormous debt to the frontline care staff that have been battling to keep the most vulnerable in our society safe during this pandemic.
“Unfortunately, serious mistakes have been made over testing, PPE and government guidance, and as a result even those residents unaffected by Covid-19 have been put in danger.
“The number of excess deaths recorded in care homes is alarming but it is also a tragedy for families up and down the country.
“The Scottish Government has moved too slowly to act in our care homes. The need to put in place an emergency plan to get the NHS up and running again is greater than ever, serving everyone in our communities, including our care homes.
“In the spirit of the great collective national effort against coronavirus, Scottish Labour calls on the First Minister to do right by the most vulnerable in our society and get the NHS on its feet again.
“Every effort made by this Government that protects the most vulnerable will be supported by Scottish Labour.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We took the difficult decision to postpone certain elective procedures and routine cancer screening precisely in order to ensure that our NHS had the capacity to cope with a potential surge of Covid-19 cases – and thereby save lives.
“The NHS remains open for vital treatments not related to Covid-19, as well as emergency and urgent care.
“Early action was taken to protect care home staff and residents, including additional deliveries of Personal Protective Equipment and guidance was issued in March advising of measures to prevent the spread of the virus and prepare care homes.
“This included advice that residents should be isolated in their rooms and not undertake communal meals or gatherings. On May 1, the First Minister announced enhanced outbreak investigations in care homes.”
She added: “Work is ongoing to better understand the excess deaths and what proportion can be attributed to Covid-19.
“We will also continue to update the guidance to care homes as Scottish and international understanding of this new virus develops, and we will continue to work with the sector to take all the necessary steps to protect residents and staff during this challenging time.”
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