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Care home deaths cover-up – Scottish government must act

21st May 2021

The revelation that the Scottish Government kept the scale of deaths in Scottish care homes secret for almost eight months has prompted a call for a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the scandal and prompt payment of compensation for those affected.

Professor Peter Watson of PBW Law, who is acting for many of the bereaved families, said the attempt by National Records of Scotland to cover-up the scale of the crisis would add to the families’ distress.

Professor Watson said: “We know that over 3,300 people have died in care homes in Scotland, many of whom were discharged from hospital straight to care homes that lacked the necessary safeguarding measures. The attempt to cover up the official figures is alarming and causes unnecessary additional suffering to the families.

“There must now be a Scottish Public Inquiry and a Fatal Accident Inquiry to examine the circumstances contributing to these deaths.

“I would urge the Scottish Government and the new Cabinet Secretary for Health to open a dialogue with the families affected and offer compensation without the need for litigation.

“This is an opportunity for the Scottish Government to lead within the UK and to distinguish the approach taken to bereaved relatives from that demonstrated elsewhere in the United Kingdom.”

Also published today, a report by the Mental Welfare Commission found that some of the patient transfers from hospital to a care home were unlawful, with some patients lacking the mental capacity to give consent.

The Mental Welfare Commission studied the detail of 457 individual patient transfers (about 10 per cent of such moves reported at the time) and found that 20 people had been unlawfully moved, as they did not have the capacity to consent.

The Crown Office investigation earlier this year suggests that over 3,300 Scottish care home residents may have died from coronavirus since March 2020, about a third of all Covid deaths in Scotland.

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