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Lawyer of families bereaved by Covid calls for care homes investigation update

A Public Health Scotland report found that more than 100 people were discharged to care homes early in the pandemic after testing positive for Covid-19 (Joe Giddens/PA)
A Public Health Scotland report found that more than 100 people were discharged to care homes early in the pandemic after testing positive for Covid-19 (Joe Giddens/PA)

A lawyer representing families who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 has pushed for an update into an investigation of deaths from the virus in care homes.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said its Covid-19 Death Investigation Team (CDIT) had received 4,042 reports of deaths in care homes to be investigated up to the end of March.

In the early part of the pandemic, more than 100 people were discharged from hospital into care homes after having tested positive for the virus, according to a Public Health Scotland report released in 2020.

But, as the UK Government was found in the High Court to have acted unlawfully in discharging people from hospital into care homes without a Covid-19 test, a lawyer representing bereaved families has pushed for answers.

Aamer Anwar
Aamer Anwar is representing the Scottish branch of Covid-19 Bereaved Families (Jane Barlow/PA)

Aamer Anwar, the lawyer for the Scottish branch of Covd-19 Bereaved Families, said in a statement after the High Court decision he would be seeking a meeting with the Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain QC.

Mr Anwar said he would ask Ms Bain to “to advise the families we represent why her inquiry into deaths in care homes is taking so long, and whether charges of corporate homicide will now follow”.

The lawyer also said his clients met with Lady Poole, who was selected to head an inquiry in Scotland into decisions taken during the pandemic, which was announced by Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, last year.

“The relatives left the meeting feeling disappointed that the Scottish Inquiry might not investigate these deaths as Crown Office and the UK Inquiry will be,” he added.

“In over three months the families feel that very little has happened in Scotland and this is deeply disappointing, whilst it appears that the UK inquiry is moving apace.

“This is not what the relatives campaigned for, nor was it what they were promised by the Scottish Government and Deputy First Minister John Swinney.”

Mr Anwar went on to say his team were considering “what further legal action can be taken against those responsible for the preventable deaths that took place in care homes”.

A spokesman for the Crown Office said: “The Crown notes Mr Anwar’s statement and will await correspondence from his office.”

Speaking specifically about the investigation into care home deaths, the spokesman added: “The COPFS has established a dedicated team to investigate Covid or presumed-Covid deaths where they fall to be reported.

“The CDIT will work with the relevant agencies to ensure that all necessary and appropriate inquiries are made.”