'My mum and other care home residents were sacrificed during Covid'

Former health secretary Jeane Freeman told the UK Covid Inquiry she will 'regret for the rest of her life' care home deaths caused by Scottish Government decision-making.

A woman has said her elderly mum and other care home residents were “sacrificed” during the Covid pandemic.

Sandra O’Neill’s mum Mary Masson died at Almond Court Care Home in Drumchapel in April 2020.

Sandra believes her mum contracted Covid from another patient who been transferred back to the home while showing symptoms of the virus. Due to visiting restrictions, Sandra wasn’t able to be at her mum’s bedside when she passed.

Speaking to STV News, she said: “They were sacrificed. It wasn’t a case of forgetting them. These people just didn’t matter, ‘get them out of the way, doesn’t matter if they’re positive – put them into the most vulnerable environment you could think of’.

“Not only people who were old, people who had dementia and weren’t able to understand isolation.

Sandra O’Neill believes her mum was ‘sacrificed’ during the pandemic.

“None of the carers were able to follow the government guidelines – it just couldn’t be actioned.”

Sandra’s comments come as former health secretary Jeane Freeman told the UK Covid Inquiry she will “regret for the rest of her life” care home deaths caused by Scottish Government decision-making.

Freeman, who was the health secretary during the pandemic up to the 2021 Holyrood election, told the inquiry in Edinburgh that there were “no risk free choices” when considering whether to introduce social distancing measures into care homes.

Her tenure oversaw key decision such as discharging patients to care homes without testing them for coronavirus first.

She told the inquiry: “I want it read into the record. I was very concerned about our care sector, and regret very much and will do for the rest of my life, any deaths that occurred there because of action the Scottish Government didn’t, or did take, and could have done better.”

Sandra said her mum passed away after five days of “suffering”.

“I know she suffered”, she added.

“For five days she couldn’t tolerate anything by mouth, so she wasn’t getting her medication, she wasn’t being fed, she wasn’t drinking and it was just the morning of her death, the GP came in and gave her end of life care that she should have been getting for five days.”

Freeman said the issue of discharging patients from hospital to a care home without being tested was a “complex issue”.

Jeane Freeman gave evidence at the UK Covid Inquiry on Monday.

She said that while 348 care homes had outbreaks of Covid-19, “some care homes that received discharges did not have outbreaks”.

“I am not saying that the discharge from hospital without a test had no impact, what I am saying is that it was one of the factors,” she added.

But she went on to admit the Scottish Government response to Covid-19 in the adult care sector was “not as adequate as I would have wished it to be”.

She added: “I believe it was all that could be done with the resources available to us at that point, and that improved as time passed.”

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