Nine people – including a nurse – have died in 10 days at a Dundee care home at the centre of negligence allegations.
Pitkerro Care Centre confirmed the fatalities after a former care worker revealed she had resigned in ‘disgust’ at the conditions she was forced to work under.
She has reported Pitkerro to the Care Inspectorate, which confirmed it was ‘considering all information’ carefully
Operator Hudson Healthcare has strenuously denied any wrongdoing, stating it had followed national safety guidance ‘every step of the way’.
Managing director Samuel Maierovits said: ‘We want to be clear: we have an enormous responsibility, so we should be held accountable for our actions.
‘However, there’s a difference between accountability and shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre; some of the misinformation being shared is just plain dangerous, and is preventing us from doing our jobs.’
While the death of a nurse at Pitkerro was confirmed as coronavirus-related, the possible link of Covid-19 to the deaths of eight residents is still being assessed by GPs.
‘Death is a constant part of care home life but it doesn’t make any of these losses any easier to deal with,’ said Mr Maierovits.
‘Our thoughts are with all of the families and friends of those who have passed on; as we fight this virus together, so too we mourn together.’
GMB Scotland, which represents a significant number of staff at Pitkerro, hit out at Hudson Healthcare last week after receiving what it described as ‘very disturbing’ information about its management culture.
Organiser Drew Duffy said it suggested the home was ‘ignoring public health guidelines and compromising the health and safety of staff and service users alike.’
More staff have since come forward to speak to the Tele, including Lee Blake, who contacted the Care Inspectorate.
She claimed there was an ‘atrocious’ lack of PPE for staff, with carers being asked to wear one apron and one pair of gloves for an entire 12-hour shift.
Dirty PPE had also been discarded on a trolley left in a corridor, which Hudson has since apologised for and is investigating.
In response, Mr Maierovits said Hudson was being distracted from its primary focus of providing the best care for residents by a ‘constant barrage of criticism in the media and online’.
He added: ‘We know this is an extremely difficult time for so many people and anxieties are running high. That’s why, so far, we have taken a conciliatory approach.
‘We will continue doing this as we think collaboration and transparency will lead to the best outcomes, but we are now considering all options because of the threat to our staff and residents, including legal action.’
Mr Maierovits said Hudson had followed Health Protection Scotland’s guidance of the use of PPE, implementing change ‘as quickly as possible’ when amendments were made.
He added: ‘We are doing all we can to protect our residents and staff.
‘We know that people are concerned and completely understand. However, we have to be able to do our job.
‘We are working closely with the local authority, Health Protection Scotland and Care Inspectorate to ensure we are following the official guidance, and will continue to do so.’
The Care Inspectorate said it understood this ‘is a really worrying time for people who experience care, their loved ones and families and for those who work in care’.
A spokesman added: ‘Care services across Scotland are working tirelessly under very challenging circumstances to care for people.
‘The Care Inspectorate is working closely with care providers, health and social care partnerships, care industry leaders and the Scottish Government to ensure services get the support they need during the pandemic.
‘Concerns have been raised with us about this service, we are in close contact with them and we are considering all information given to us carefully.’