Nicola Sturgeon is facing growing demands to take urgent action on Scotland’s care home visiting scandal
Nicola Sturgeon is facing growing demands to take urgent action on Scotland’s care home visiting scandal.
Doctors, politicians, lawyers, campaigners and celebrities have added their name to an open letter to the First Minister highlighting what they describe as a “human rights emergency”.
They include leading surgeon Emma Hamilton, consultant anaesthetist Chris Mowatt, TV presenter Dougie Donnelly and Olympic curling gold medallist Rhona Howie.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, Scottish Tory Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson and Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie have also signed up, along with solicitor Patrick McGuire, STUC general secretary Roz Foyer and Unite general secretary Pat Rafferty.
While the Scottish Government has amended care home visiting guidelines and promised more rapid testing for relatives, fears remain that thousands of families will struggle to see loved ones at Christmas.
Hundreds of people have seen parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters die in homes without proper contact and often without being able to say final goodbyes.
While residents are to be given priority for vaccine shots expected to be rolled out this week, immunity will take weeks to develop.
The letter highlights the fact that about 300 care home residents die in Scotland every week – most of non-Covid related illnesses – with thousands having passed away since lockdowns were imposed in March.
Sports journalist Alison Walker, whose parents are in homes and who helped organise the letter, said: “While the vaccination is the right thing, it’s going to take a long time to vaccinate all 35,000 care home residents and their relatives.
“My focus is still the same – to get families in to be with their loved one safely with PPE and the appropriate infection control measures.
“This has been happening in a few care homes around the country.
“With so many dying before their time and without family, we cannot wait and wait, they cannot wait and wait, for the vaccine programme to be ‘rolled…