Jamie raises with Health Secretary concerns over Moray care home testing delays

Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has raised further concerns with the Scottish Government over how long it took for testing to made available to a Moray care home after a case of Covid-19 had been confirmed.

Questioning Health Secretary Jeane Freeman at Holyrood earlier today (Tuesday 19th May), the Conservative MSP said a delay of nearly three weeks in completing testing at Keith’s Glenisla care home were unacceptable, putting the safety of both residents and staff at further risk.

Ms Freeman accepted that the delay was unacceptable, assuring Mr Halcro Johnston that she would look again into the case and also concerns that some of the tests appear to have taken five days to process. She also confirmed official guidance that, in care homes where there were confirmed cases, secondary testing should take place and she would investigate claims that this was not being made available to Glenisla.

Mr Halcro Johnston, who has previously raised concerns over the delays with Nicola Sturgeon, said: “I am disappointed that, three weeks after the original case of Convid-19 was confirmed, and having raised this case with the First Minister, I’m still having to chase up the Scottish Government to make sure their own guidance in followed.

“When a case of Covid-19 is confirmed in a care home, testing all residents and staff is absolutely critical in identifying any spread of the virus and should be a priority.

“However, in this case, I’ve been advised that, even when testing had been conducted, some of those tests appear to have taken five days to process, despite the clear need to identify any new cases as a matter of urgency.

“Prompt testing, following by secondary testing, would give care homes the best chance of identifying any new cases, isolating those with the virus. It should happen as a matter of course but hasn’t here.

“Unfortunately, ministerial rhetoric seems to be very different to what is happening on the ground. The Scottish Government need to get their act together - and fast - so that staff, residents and residents’ families can be assured that all is being done to reduce the risk Covid-19 presents to our care homes”.

Mr Halcro Johnston confirmed that he had written to Jeane Freeman again, seeking clarification on the authorities’ response to the situation at Glenisla, and would continue to exert pressure for secondary testing to be implemented.