Police investigate deaths of three women at Skye care home

NHS Highland has stepped in to play a greater role in the facility after concerns were raised.

Police investigate deaths of three women at Skye care home Google 2020

Police are investigating the deaths of three women at a Skye care home at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak.

Ten residents have died at Home Farm Care Home in Portree, operated by private provider HC-One.

Officers have said they are looking into the circumstances of the deaths of three women, aged 84, 86 and 88, at the home.

NHS Highland has stepped in to play a greater role in running the facility after the Care Inspectorate took legal action against HC-One.

Weekly inspections are to be carried out at the home before the “nuclear option” of suspending its registration is considered, it was agreed in court earlier this week.

It comes as health secretary Jeane Freeman said a review should be held into Scotland’s care home sector at some point in the future.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We can confirm we are investigating the circumstances of the deaths of three women, aged 84, 86 and 88, at Home Farm Care Home on Skye. Inquiries are continuing.”

A HC-One spokeswoman said the company will fully cooperate with any investigations.

She added: “We recognised that improvements were needed at Home Farm and therefore apologise to our residents, their families, and the local community.

“The safety and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority and we have already made significant progress.”

Earlier this month, the Lord Advocate said all care home deaths from confirmed or suspected Covid-19 must be reported to the Crown.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “The Crown’s reporting requirements in respect of Covid-related deaths allow for a multi-agency response, and for appropriate investigations to be made in light of the specific circumstances.

“It would not be appropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation.”

Freeman faced questions over the coronavirus impact on Scotland’s care homes at the Scottish Government’s briefing on Sunday.

Asked whether a full-scale review of the sector is required, she said a review should be held into the structure and funding of the care home sector in Scotland – currently a mix of homes run by the private sector, charities, not-for-profit organisations and local authorities.

She said: “I do believe that that is something that we need to look to as we go forward.

“Right now, of course, our focus is dealing on this pandemic but I think it has shone a light on a number of areas where there have been improvements we might want to hold onto and other areas where we might want to look for improvements in the future.”

Earlier, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the health secretary should “come clean” over the scale of discharging untested hospital patients into care homes.

Scottish Government delayed discharge figures indicated 921 patients were released from hospitals into care homes in March, but the minister did not announce mandatory testing of all new care home residents until April 21.

Leonard raised concerns over the figures when the health secretary previously suggested only around 300 people had been discharged to care homes.

She has since said the information was given in error and apologised.

He said: “The impact of coronavirus in Scotland’s care homes has been little short of horrifying and it is clear that discharging infected patients to care homes has played a key role in fanning the flames of this virus.

“The cabinet secretary owes it to the people of Scotland and the families of the residents and staff affected to come clean over the failure of the government to protect the most vulnerable.”

Freeman told the briefing the decision to release patients who were able to leave hospital to their own homes and care homes was made to ensure the NHS was not overwhelmed, saying: “I think that decision has to be judged as the correct one.”

She added: “As the First Minister has said I too – if I had known everything I know now had known then – then we may have made different decisions about whether or not every patient who is being discharged from hospital, who was a Covid patient, was tested to ensure that they were negative.

“What is the case is that they were discharged from hospital because they were clinically well.”

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