Health Secretary Jeane Freeman is to investigate a series of Covid testing problems experienced by a Grantown-on-Spey care home.
The issues endured by the Grandview Care Home included a batch of tests becoming lost as well as a failure to analyse them when they were sent to Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.
The problems resulted in delayed results and were compounded when incomplete testing kits were sent to the care home.
Grantown is at the centre of a Covid cluster where there have been 37 cases. Of those, 34 have been linked with the Millers of Speyside abattoir. The care home had one positive test.
The matter was raised with Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions by Conservative Highlands MSP Edward Mountain.
Can you please give me an undertaking that you will personally investigate these issues because they don’t give me or the residents of Grantown the confidence in the Test and Protect system which we should have?”
Edward Mountain questions Nicola Sturgeon
Mr Mountain claimed the Scottish Government diverted a batch of tests carried out at the care home to Raigmore Hospital that, due to their type, could not be analysed and were then lost.
Raising the issue on behalf of residents and staff, Mr Mountain told MSPs Ms Freeman had confirmed the tests had been diverted to Inverness when he contacted her.
NHS Highland had confirmed it was unable to analyse them.
The Tory MSP asked the first minister to explain why the Scottish Government sent the tests to a lab that could not analyse them and why they had been lost – a situation that led to retesting and delays.
Mr Mountain added: “Can you please give me an undertaking that you will personally investigate these issues because they don’t give me or the residents of Grantown the confidence in the Test and Protect system which we should have? Especially as NHS Highland this morning not only dispatched incomplete testing kits to the care home, requiring the care home to go back to Raigmore to pick up more.”
Ms Sturgeon said she was unaware of the problem but would make Ms Freeman look into the issue.
“What I do know is that local teams in Grantown on Spey have been working very hard and effectively to make sure this cluster of cases is kept under control,” Ms Sturgeon said. “The cluster is now 37 cases, certainly the last information I had. Most of them linked to local abattoir and just two cases in the wider community.
“I don’t dismiss the kind of challenges the member raises. We will look into them. But actually those figures are a real tribute to test and protect, stopping a workplace cluster seeping into the wider community, and my thanks go to everybody who has helped achieve that so far.”
Dr Tim Allison, Director of Public Health for NHS Highland, said: “During this cluster, public health has been in regular communication with all local providers including care homes, often several times each day. The position on testing is quite clearly laid out in national guidance on testing staff and residents in care homes and that guidance has been followed.
We have apologised and will ensure as best we can that this does not happen again.”
Dr Tim Allison
“Weekly testing of care home staff is carried out through the UK Government testing routes. This system, as has been well publicised lately, has been overwhelmed with numbers of tests being done across the UK. The UK Government laboratories have not been able to process the large numbers of tests, which has led to delays in results being processed.
“We have communication links with the Glasgow laboratory to ensure if tests do come to Raigmore Hospital in error we can arrange for them to be forwarded on. Care home resident testing during this cluster has been carried out at the local NHS laboratory in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, and all these tests have been negative.
“NHS Highland have endeavoured to support the care home through this cluster and are sorry that incomplete testing kits were sent to them today. We have apologised and will ensure as best we can that this does not happen again.”