Police probe Covid deaths of 22 care home residents

Fullarton Care Home in Irvine
Police are investigating the deaths of residents at Fullarton Care Home in Irvine

Police are investigating the deaths of 22 residents at a North Ayrshire care home during the Covid pandemic.

Fullarton Care Home in Irvine was one of the worst hit during the early days of the health crisis.

Officers from Police Scotland's major investigation team are leading the probe and have questioned management and staff.

BBC Scotland News has contacted the home's operators, HC-One, for comment.

A special Crown Office unit was set up in May 2020 to examine Covid-linked deaths at 474 care homes in Scotland.

Prosecutors will eventually decide if the deaths should be the subject of a fatal accident inquiry or prosecution.

In July 2020 data analysed by BBC Scotland revealed 47% of the deaths from the virus in the North Ayrshire council area could be "attributed" to Fullerton Care Home.

It was previously issued with "a letter of serious concern" after the Care Inspectorate observed a variety of issues including cleanliness and staff "lacking understanding of infection control practices".

In May 2020 the watchdog also found "inconsistent use" of personal protective equipment (PPE), adding some staff appeared "not to understand or follow" public health guidance in place at the time.

It said the "poor standard of cleanliness of the home was not protecting the health, welfare and safety needs of people using the service".

Care home generic
Care home generic

Police Scotland's assistant chief constable Bex Smith said: “We understand how upsetting and difficult this is for the many families who lost loved ones as a result of the Covid pandemic."

She added the force was supporting the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) review into deaths in care homes.

Ms Smith said: "While we continue to gather information, a number of investigations have now commenced at the request of COPFS.

"As the investigations are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Last month former Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman told the Scottish Covid Inquiry she would regret care home deaths during the pandemic "for the rest of my life".

Ms Freeman also denied infection control systems were "completely inadequate,” but acknowledged there was a severe shortage of testing and PPE.

But she added: “I believe it was all that could be done with the resources available to us at that point, and that improved as time passed.”

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