Sturgeon pledges SNP campaign ‘brimming with optimism’

SNP leader will launch two campaign buses in Edinburgh on Saturday as battle for Holyrood reaches its final days.

Nicola Sturgeon will campaign in Edinburgh on Saturday. STV News
Nicola Sturgeon will campaign in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Nicola Sturgeon will promise a campaign “brimming with optimism” from the SNP as the battle for Holyrood reaches its final days.

The SNP leader will be in Edinburgh on Saturday to launch two campaign buses – urging Scots to give both their votes on Thursday to her party.

While the SNP is almost certain to win most MSPs in the constituency section of the vote, all parties are pushing hard to pick up additional seats via the regional list section of the ballot.

Sturgeon, who has led the Scottish Government throughout the coronavirus pandemic, will appeal to people to vote for her to provide the “experienced leadership and serious government” which she will say is needed “to keep Scotland safe at this crucial time”.

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While she will say that “last year our world changed” when Covid-19 hit, she will insist that “this year can be a year of hope and optimism – as we work not only to keep Scotland safe, but to build a better country”.

She will insist that a government led by her can build a recovery that will “make future generations proud”.

But she will also stress that Scots should have “the right to decide their own future” with a second vote on independence.

Sturgeon will say: “Thursday’s crucial election is about who has the experience to lead Scotland out of the pandemic and into recovery. Only the SNP is putting forward a serious programme for government to remobilise our NHS, rebuild our economy and help our communities recover.

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“And only the SNP wants Scotland’s recovery to be in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s. After all we’ve been through, people deserve better than to be subjected to years more of Tory cuts handed down from Westminster which will hurt our NHS and choke off recovery.

“I know that we have the natural resources and human talent to build a sustainable recovery from this pandemic which can make future generations proud.

“My focus will continue to be fully on tackling the pandemic – but when the crisis has passed, people in Scotland have the right to decide their own future, and whether Scotland would be better off with the full powers of an independent country.”

Sturgeon will continue: “The SNP campaign over these final few days will be brimming with optimism in contrast to the relentless negativity of the opposition.

“On Thursday make it both votes SNP for experienced leadership, a serious programme to kick-start the recovery and the right for people in Scotland to decide their future.”

Concern over rising number of coronavirus cases in Glasgow

Warnings against large gatherings in Glasgow after the city recorded 58 cases per 100,000 people in the past week.

Craig Williamson via SNS Group
Coronavirus cases are rising in Glasgow.

Concern is growing over a rise in coronavirus cases in Glasgow, just days before the city is moved under level two restrictions.

Over the last week, there have been 25 cases per 100,000 people across Scotland. Glasgow is more than double that at 58 per 100,000.

Moray, which is expected to remain at level three next Monday following a surge in cases and an increase in hospital admissions, is higher still at 100 per 100,000.

But Pollokshields, in the southside of Glasgow, has the highest transmission rate in Scotland – 575 per 100,000, which is just slightly higher than in Easterhouse, in the east end of the city.

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Scotland recorded 345 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, a third of them in Glasgow.

The Scottish Government has particular concerns over crowds of people gathering to celebrate various events in the city over the coming days including the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, which begins on Wednesday evening.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was vital to stick to the level three restrictions until they are lifted, as well as the “red list” quarantine rules for those arriving from countries such as India, Pakistan, Turkey and Nepal.

She said: “This is the second Eid to have taken place during the pandemic, which I know has been incredibly challenging.

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“I want to thank community leaders and members for doing an amazing job keeping each other safe during this difficult period.

“I understand how disappointing it will be to have to restrict celebrations.

“However, everyone celebrating Eid must do so safely and in line with the necessary public health restrictions – unfortunately that means not visiting other people’s homes and maintaining a two-metre distance with those from outside your household at all times.”

She was speaking during a visit to Glasgow Central Mosque with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, where they urged Scotland’s Muslim community to celebrate the end of Ramadan safely.

Sarwar said: “Scottish Muslims have made sacrifices during Ramadan.

“But they have also made big sacrifices over the last year to get through this pandemic. Like me, I know you are desperate to be reunited with your loved ones.

“But I would urge everyone to please follow the Covid rules closely in the coming days. This is to keep you and your family safe and well.

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“There is hope and optimism again as the lockdown continues to ease. And if we follow the rules we will soon be able to see and hold our loved ones again safely.”

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said it was vital to maintain restrictions on household visiting and staying two metres apart from others.

He also urged Rangers fans to celebrate at home this weekend, with the Ibrox club set to be presented with the Premiership trophy following their match against Aberdeen.

Police Scotland also warned against large gatherings after a fan group organised a title day march – scheduled to leave the Glasgow stadium once the trophy has been lifted and then making its way to George Square.

Earlier on Wednesday, national clinical director Jason Leitch said there are currently around 20 to 30 cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus in Scotland.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme the cases have been detected in Scotland in a number of locations.

Professor Leitch said: “They are in a few places, some of that is travel, most of it has been connected with inward travel and then of course spread within a group from that initial seeding, more troubles in the north of England, so they’ve got more and it’s spreading faster.

“We’re a little bit unsure about the nature of this individual variant, it’s at least as transmissible as the Kent variant, we hope it’s not worse, but we’re having to do lots of science to find out.

“That’s one of the big concerns, we’ve talked about that for months, a variant worse than Kent would set us back.”

Police launch probe after Rangers fans set off pyrotechnics

Investigation under way after more than 200 Rangers supporters gather on hill to watch their team against Livingston.

Rob Casey via SNS Group
Rangers players and fans celebrate in Livingston on Wednesday night,

Police have condemned the behaviour of Rangers fans who set off pyrotechnics during Wednesday night’s match at Livingston.

An investigation has been launched after a group of 200 fans gathered to watch Steven Gerrard’s team from a hill just outside the ground in West Lothian.

Sergeant Jim Gowling said: “An investigation is under way after several pyrotechnics were let off during the Livingston v Rangers game. 

“The inquiry will involve officers reviewing extensive CCTV footage to identify those involved in this reckless and dangerous behaviour.” 

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Rangers’ quest for an invincible league campaign will go down to the final day of the season after Steven Gerrard’s champions cleared their penultimate hurdle at Livingston.

James Tavernier tucked home his 19th goal of the season from the penalty spot before Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi sealed a 3-0 win at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

Like the Light Blues’ last visit, the locked-out Rangers supporters launched a barrage of fireworks in the 55th minute to mark their heroes’ title triumph.

Earlier on Wednesday, justice secretary Humza Yousaf urged Rangers fans to celebrate at home this weekend, with the Ibrox club set to be presented with the Premiership trophy following their match against Aberdeen.

Police Scotland also warned against large gatherings after a fan group organised a title day march.

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Supporters plan to leave Ibrox once the trophy has been lifted and then make their way to George Square.

TV chef Kitchin says Scottish hospitality sector ‘disregarded’

The restaurant owner believes some of the lockdown easing measures - coming into effect next week - 'dont' make any sense at all'.

STV News

The owner of a Michelin-starred restaurant in Edinburgh has called for more support to be given to the hospitality sector, saying it has been “disregarded” as coronavirus restrictions continue to ease.

Tom Kitchin, who opened The Kitchin restaurant in Leith with his wife in 2006, said the relaxation of rules coming into effect from Monday doesn’t go far enough.

He particularly criticised the restriction that means customers have to be off the premises, rather than placing last orders, by 10.30pm – a measure he said “didn’t make any sense at all”.

Venues can open and sell alcohol indoors until 10.30pm or outdoors until 10pm from next Monday, when most of mainland Scotland moves under level two restrictions.

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Kitchin said: “I totally feel that we’ve been left behind in the hospitality sector. I totally feel that we’ve been disregarded and I totally feel that we don’t have the support of the people who should be supporting us.

“For me, personally, to make it more viable for the business is ‘allow us to operate properly in a controlled and safe manner’, the way all hospitality businesses have been doing and let us make sure that people are well-spaced, we have proper documentation and we’re doing it as licensees.

“We need to get this economy moving because this not about Tom Kitchin, this is about other businesses, other restaurants and our suppliers – they are on their knees. We need to get this economy moving. Enough is enough.”

Kitchin was speaking as new research published by the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), the representative body for tourism business in Scotland, painted a stark picture for the sector.

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The STA surveyed 271 businesses directly and found that 30% took the decision to remain closed following the last easing of restrictions on April 26; of those, 31% have said that they do not plan to reopen next week when restrictions ease further.

The organisation’s research also highlighted an extremely slow start to accommodation bookings; between 41 – 45% of accommodation providers who responded indicated that over the course of May, June and July, occupancy is sitting at below 20%.

According to the STA, the sector could be in a worse position now than it was a year ago, with the occupancy rate for city hotels sitting below 20% in the coming months.

Marc Crothall, the organisation’s CEO said: “The Scottish Tourism Alliance is very concerned at some of the suggested media reporting (in recent weeks) that staycations are booming and that there are bookings coming in their abundance – the fact of the matter is that is not the case.

“We are hearing and have seen from the survey results that we have had back, and other data that has been gathered by member groups, that the occupancy levels for the coming months are well below what they need to be and in some cases significantly low.

“In our cities, the average hotel occupancy is around 14-15% in Glasgow over the coming months and as low as 20% in Edinburgh.”

McVitie’s workers ‘left in shock’ over factory closure

Almost 500 people work at the brand's last remaining site in Scotland.

STV News
The factory’s operations to cease in the latter half of 2022, with production moving to one of six sites in England.

Workers at the McVitie’s factory in Glasgow have said they were left in shock following the news that its owner plans to shut it down.

Almost 500 people are employed at the Tollcross site which makes Hobnobs and Rich Tea biscuits and is the only operation left in Scotland owned by global snack giant Pladis.

Joanne Fyall’s mum has worked at the factory for 19 years but was off when the announcement came on Tuesday. She said the news was totally unexpected.

Ms Fyall told STV News: “There were no rumours going about the factory or anything. I think it’s disgusting how they have been treated.

STV News
Inside the Tollcross McVitie’s factory now scheduled for closure next year (STV News)
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“I saw it on Facebook and then sent it to my mum. She was just shocked because it wasn’t something she knew was going to happen.

“It’s terrible, I feel for all the workers to be honest.”

The factory’s operations would cease in the latter half of 2022, with production moving to one of six sites in England.

An agency worker employed at the factory told STV News: “The people who work at Tollcross are the hardest working people I have ever seen. They work 12 hour shifts and never show fatigue.

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“The managers, and this is the first time I have ever said this about a job, are the kindest funniest and most hard working managers I’ve ever worked for. Pladis are making a great mistake”

Pladis said the company’s UK and Ireland managing director David Murray announced the redundancy consultation at meetings with staff on Tuesday.

Some areas of production at the Tollcross site have ceased for the rest of the week to allow workers time to digest the news.

John Mason, SNP MSP for Shettleston, told STV News: “This is a major employer in the East End of Glasgow and we don’t want to lose any jobs and we certainly don’t want to lose 500 jobs.

STV News
John Mason, SNP MSP for Shettleston (STV News)

“It was a surprise when it came, however, we have worried about this site for quite a long time. It’s not been invested in, the building is dilapidated.

“I’ve spoken to the Pladis management over the years, locally, nationally, and the trade unions, and everyone has been concerned about it. So, I don’t think it’s a big surprise but it’s incredibly disappointing.”

Pladis said the factory’s closure is subject to a “full and meaningful” consultation with employees. Unions Unite Scotland and GMB Scotland have said urgent action is needed to save jobs at the site.

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GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith said: “There is no levelling-up agenda for workers in the East-end of Glasgow today. It’s back to ‘business as usual’ for pladis, having made staff work throughout this pandemic to increase sales and maximise profit, all while pocketing public money.

“GMB will explore every avenue to save jobs and bring investment into this business and the community, but every politician should take a long and hard look at Tollcross because it is typical of what’s left of a once thriving manufacturing sector.

“We can fix this, but the road to recovery must run through workers and communities like those in Tollcross. They can’t be forgotten.”

The Scottish Government said the announcement was “a huge blow to the company’s staff, their families and the local area” and that support has been offered to Glasgow City Council.

The Turkish owner Pladis, formed in 2016, is behind some of the UK’s best known snack brands including McVitie’s, Jacob’s, go ahead! and Carr’s. With its headquarters in the UK, the firm operates seven factories and a research and development hub, with another 19 factories in ten different countries around the world employing more than 16,000 people.

Mr Murray, Pladis MD, said on Tuesday: “We know this news will be difficult for our colleagues at Tollcross. Our priority now is to provide them with the support they need during the consultation process.”

Sturgeon and Sarwar visit mosque to urge safe Eid celebration

The party leaders said it was vital to maintain restrictions on household visiting and staying two metres apart from others.

Russell Cheyne via PA Ready
Sarwar and Sturgeon Glasgow Central Mosque.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar have visited Glasgow Central Mosque together as they urged Scotland’s Muslim community to celebrate the end of Ramadan safely.

Along with justice secretary Humza Yousaf, they said it was vital to maintain restrictions on household visiting and staying two metres apart from others.

On Thursday, Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid al-Fitr, known as the festival of breaking fast.

It is typically celebrated at the end of the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan.

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Scotland is due to ease a number of coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including some relating to close contact with loved ones.

Wednesday’s joint visit to the mosque by rival political leaders comes ahead of the Airdrie and Shotts by-election on Thursday.

The First Minister said it was vital to stick to the Level 3 restrictions until they are lifted, as well as the “red list” quarantine rules for those arriving from places like India, Pakistan, Turkey and Nepal.

She said: “This is the second Eid to have taken place during the pandemic, which I know has been incredibly challenging.

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“I want to thank community leaders and members for doing an amazing job keeping each other safe during this difficult period.

“I understand how disappointing it will be to have to restrict celebrations.

“However, everyone celebrating Eid must do so safely and in line with the necessary public health restrictions – unfortunately that means not visiting other people’s homes and maintaining a two-metre distance with those from outside your household at all times.”

She said the rules were particularly important given the surge in cases in Moray, as well as rising numbers in Glasgow.

Sarwar said: “Scottish Muslims have made sacrifices during Ramadan.

“But they have also made big sacrifices over the last year to get through this pandemic.

“Like me, I know you are desperate to be reunited with your loved ones.

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“But I would urge everyone to please follow the Covid rules closely in the coming days.

“This is to keep you and your family safe and well.

“There is hope and optimism again as the lockdown continues to ease.

“And if we follow the rules we will soon be able to see and hold our loved ones again safely.

“I wish all Scottish Muslims a happy Eid, Eid Mubarak!”


Warning over scam email offering Scottish Cup Final tickets

Hibernian FC issued a warning to supporters to watch out for the 'fraudulent' email.

Craig Williamson via SNS Group
Hibs and St Johnstone played in an empty Hampden during their League Cup semi-final on January 23.

Football fans have been warned of “fraudulent” emails offering fans tickets to the Scottish Cup Final this month.

No tickets are currently on sale for the Hibs and St Johnstone game on May 22, although UEFA has confirmed a “limited number” of supporters will be able to attend Hampden park.

Hibs issued a warning asking anyone who receives the scam email not to click on any of the links included or provide any personal details and report it.

A spokesperson from the club said: “We have been made aware of fraudulent emails purporting to offer fans Scottish Cup Final tickets. Please note no tickets are currently on sale.

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“If you receive the below email offering Scottish Cup Final tickets please report it and do not click on any links or provide personal details. We are in regular conversations with the Scottish Football Association and will provide more information to fans as soon as possible.”

The message, claiming to be from “The Hibernian Team”, reads: “We have some wonderful news for you. You have been selected as one of our most valued supporters and would like to reward you by giving you the opportunity to purchase two tickets for the upcoming Scottish Cup Final.

“As you will know this is taking place at Hampden Park, on May 22, 2021. A 2pm kick-off.

“All you need to do is log-in to eTicketing, all the information you will require is there. This includes what you are required to do in relation to Covid measures.

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“Hope we all have a great day. Glory, Glory to The Hibees.”

Changes to lockdown rules mean that up to 500 supporters can attend events at Scottish stadia from Monday, May 17, with more possible with special permission.

Yesterday, the Scottish Football Association confirmed it had made submission to the Scottish Government to increase the number of fans permitted at the match.

The SFA is hopeful up to 2000 supporters will be allowed into Hampden to watch Hibs play St Johnstone.

Sea shanty star says performing at Brits was ‘crazy’

Nathan Evans performed a comedic version of his number one single Wellerman with host Jack Whitehall.

STV News

Viral sea shanty star Nathan Evans has said performing at the Brit Awards was “absolutely crazy”.

The 26-year-old from Airdrie joined presenter Jack Whitehall to perform a remix of his number one single Wellerman. 

The tune finally reached the top spot in March after spending seven consecutive weeks in the top three.

Evans shot to fame after performing sea shanties on social media platform TikTok during the pandemic. 

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He quit his job as a postman after signing a record deal with Polydor Records.

However he is still surprised at how quickly his life has changed. 

Evans said: “Just being at the Brits, even though five months ago I was working as a postman, walking about just doing my normal job, and then five months later I’m at the Brits doing a performance, it’s absolutely crazy.”

The former postie said he loved performing the comedic version of his hit single with host Jack Whitehall.

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“[Jack Whitehall] absolutely smashed it, funny as always it was amazing to get to work with him, fantastic.

“It’s mental just to be on the same level and obviously during that performance as well, when you’re walking down and I look to my left and I see all the nominees, Little Mix, Headie One sitting there as well with Biffy Clyro, everybody was sitting there and I’m thinking ‘this is just insane’.”

Lewis Capaldi, who won two Brit Awards at last year’s ceremony, was muted for most of his speech as he took to the stage to present Dua Lipa with the best album prize.

In what appeared to be a stunt, the Scottish star descended into a light-hearted but sweary rant aimed at the audience and viewers at home.

A mute sign appeared to viewers as Capaldi was repeatedly silenced by the show organisers, in an apparent nod towards the popular use of video-calling platforms during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Evans said his friends at home told him they barely heard anything that Capaldi said while on stage.

“It doesn’t surprise me that a Scottish person ended up getting muted for their entire speech,” he joked.


Rangers beat Livi to move one game from unbeaten league season

A 3-0 win over Livingston put Steven Gerrard's side in reach of another major achievement.

Rob Casey via SNS Group
James Tavernier's penalty put Rangers on the road to victory.

Rangers’ quest for an invincible league campaign will go down to the final day of the season after Steven Gerrard’s champions cleared their penultimate hurdle at Livingston.

James Tavernier tucked home his 19th goal of the season from the penalty spot before Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi sealed a 3-0 win at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

The new kings of Scotland have survived 37 fixtures without defeat so far, racking up 99 points in the process.

They now need only a draw to complete a blemish-free season and also smash through the century barrier when they host Aberdeen ahead of Saturday’s long-awaited trophy presentation.

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Davie Martindale’s Livi still have reason to push on to the finish line ahead of their curtain-closer against St Johnstone, despite a fifth successive league game without a win. Victory for the winner will secure fifth place and a potential European slot.

There was a classy touch before kick-off as the hosts offered Gers a guard of honour from the halfway line as Gerrard’s team entered from the corner.

Rangers were making their third visit of the Premiership campaign to Almondvale.

The champions had hardly enjoyed their two previous trips along the M8, requiring a last-minute winner to scrape victory back in March following August’s frustrating goalless draw.

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They appeared little happier on Livi’s sticky plastic surface in the opening stages this time, with the end-of-season vibe doing little to raise the enthusiasm levels.

Jack Simpson was definitely out of his comfort zone up against Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, who created the first chance when he rolled Josh Mullin through on goal after sitting the former Bournemouth defender down on his backside.

Jon McLaughlin came to Simpson’s rescue that time but he soon found himself in Don Robertson’s book for dragging down Livi’s lumbering frontman after losing their next test of strength.

Rangers had been chapping at the Livi door without much success until three minutes before the break when Kemar Roofe’s gorgeous flick sent Hagi racing through.

The Romania international got his shot away but was immediately clattered into by Max Stryjek.

Livi will feel it was a harsh award given Hagi’s shot was well off-target but by the letter of the law Don Robertson well within his rights to give the spot-kick.

Tavernier slotted past Stryjek’s right hand to the delight of the 200 fans who gathered to watch their team from a hill just outside the ground.

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Like the Light Blues’ last visit, the locked-out loyal launched a barrage of fireworks in the 55th minute to mark their heroes’ title triumph.

Two minutes later their team exploded forward to grab the second.

Tavernier found Kent galloping infield with a pin-point 50-yard raker and the winger tapped home after a quick-fire exchange of passes with Alfredo Morelos.

Livi almost hit back immediately. Scott Pittman shook the bar with a volley but McLaughlin was up smartly to punch clear before Jon Guthrie could leap on the rebound.

But Martindale was left looking away in disgust as Jaze Kabia missed an absolute sitter, smashing against the base of the post despite having an empty net to aim at after Pittman’s clever flick from Nicky Devlin’s cross took McLaughlin out of the equation.

Kabia slotted another big chance wide and Livi were made to regret those missed opportunities as Hagi made sure Gers’ search for a loss-free campaign lived on in the 83rd minute, stroking home from Cedric Itten’s cut-back. 


Dying residents ‘did not receive pain medication they needed’

Inspectors said that nursing staff at Thornlea Nursing Home in Loanhead, Midlothian, were 'incompetent'.

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Midlothian: Thornlea Nursing Home has since closed.

Residents at a care home where 15 people died from Covid-19 did not receive the pain medication they needed when they were dying because of “incompetent” nursing staff.

Inspectors said that nursing staff at Thornlea Nursing Home in Loanhead, Midlothian, failed to recognise when people were becoming unwell or dying and, as a result, did not act quickly enough.

There was not enough end-of-life medicine available to ensure people were as comfortable as they should have been in their final days.

Inspectors also described finding the home’s 27 residents self-isolating in their rooms, many very unwell, without checks being carried out on their condition.

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Personal protective equipment (PPE) was being stored on cluttered trolleys next to open bags of clinical waste which would contaminate them and bags of waste were piled up in a bath.

The home, which the Care Inspectorate took to court in December to suspend its licence after carrying out the unannounced inspection, has now closed.

In total, 15 residents were reported to have died from Covid.

Following the inspection, the home was given the lowest grade – one – for its care of residents during the pandemic.

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The inspectors’ report, which was released this week, said: “There was a lack of observations including temperature checks, pulse rates and oxygen saturation checks.

“The failure to undertake these essential observations and respond appropriately meant people who were ill were not experiencing the care and treatment they needed.

“This included medication not being reviewed, the need for end-of-life care not being recognised, and people’s experiences of care at the end of their life may have been compromised as a result.”

The report slammed staff at the nursing home for not recognising the needs of ill or dying residents.

It said: “We had significant concerns about the competency of the care home’s nursing staff.

“This was because they failed to recognise when people were becoming unwell or were dying, and did not react quickly enough to manage pain or people’s symptoms as a result.

“For example, it was not until a local Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) palliative care nurse was on-site to provide support that sufficient anticipatory end-of-life medication was ordered.

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“Anticipatory medication reduces the pain and suffering people experience at end of life and this should have been in place.

“We would expect registered nurses to be aware of the need to be
prepared so they could provide the right care and support at the right time.”

The report noted that, following the temporary suspension of the care home’s licence, it closed and has had its registration cancelled.

By local democracy reporter Marie Sharp


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