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Privatisation of care homes left the sector unable to deal with coronavirus

THE privatisation of care homes in Scotland was a factor in the sector’s failure to deal with its Covid-19 response, a damning report revealed yesterday.

Scotland’s care homes were unprepared for the pandemic, the report by the Common Weal “think-and-do tank” found, identifying multiple system failures.

As a result, six out of 10 care homes in Scotland have had a case of Covid-19 and about 45 per cent still have cases, it said.

For the first eight weeks of the pandemic, treatment of residents was left to the discretion of private companies, it noted.

The report’s leading author, Nick Kempe, described the handling of the pandemic as “the single greatest failure of devolved government since the creation of the Scottish Parliament.” 

Privatisation of the care sector was clearly not in the public interest, he said.

Scotland’s regulatory framework puts private ownership and private financial interests before care — and there are no effective mechanisms for improving standards, Mr Kempe concluded. 

He said: “I hope the report shows that the thousand individual tragedies now being played out in Scotland’s care homes are no accident but a consequence of the state abandoning responsibility for the welfare of its citizens.”

Common Weal director Robin McAlpine said: “Scotland’s care sector is almost all privatised and is run largely like a property-speculation industry which has minimised the more expensive medical services it provides.

“In combination with major mistakes, this has proved to be a lethal cocktail, and Scotland should commit to returning care for older people to being a public service delivered for the public good.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said the report “paints a wholly misleading picture” and claimed it had “from the outset taken firm action” on protecting care homes.

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