Neil Findlay slams Jeane Freeman over care home testing
Christina McKelvie was appointed Scotland’s Minister for Older People and Equalities by Nicola Sturgeon in 2018 but hasn’t undertaken any visits – including virtual video chats – since March 2020, when the COVID-19 crisis begun. It comes after SNP ministers were recently embroiled in a furious row on a policy of mass discharges from wards to care homes, where nearly 2,800 people have died with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
The Scottish Lib Dems asked a Holyrood question about the number of visits Christina McKelvie made to care homes since March 2020.
The response read: “The Minister for Older People has made no physical or virtual visits to care homes since March 2020.”
They also asked for meetings she had with staff, residents or their relatives, representatives of industry body Scottish Care or groups representing families.
It said the Minister had attended just one meeting with a group representing OAPs’ families in October but was a guest of Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.
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Rosemary Bruce, the Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Social Security and Older People, accused Ms McKelvie of being “absent” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
It comes just hours after 10 died after contracting COVID-19 following an outbreak at a care home.
NHS Fife said 25 residents and 43 staff tested positive for the virus at Mossview Care Home in Lochgelly.
Ms Bruce added: “The past year has been impossibly difficult for care home residents and their families.
“These people are at the height of vulnerability and as a result they have been, and continue to be, some of the most isolated in our communities.
“There has been a perpetual maze of new public health advice and guidance, and the constant strain of balancing the risk of COVID-19 against loneliness for both the residents and their families.
“Many have been shunted between homes and hospitals and deprived of access to their families. Comforts have been few and far between.
“A Minister for Older People should have been a reassuring presence. Instead, she has been completely absent.
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“The only engagement she has had with care home residents, their families and the industry as a whole is being a passenger in someone else’s meeting.
“Christina McKelvie owes care home residents and their families a grovelling apology.”
In response, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Care home policy is the responsibility of the Health Secretary.
“The Minister for Older People meets monthly with the Older People’s Strategic Action Forum to discuss issues and hear the views and voices of older people.
“Work is currently underway that will support resuming visiting in care homes to designated visitors.
“The Health Secretary and Minister for Older People have met families of residents to work with them on proposals.”
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