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Deferral of Inverness Sheriff Court decision over operation of Covid-19 coronavirus-hit Home Farm care home in Portree, Skye, 'only continues uncertainty', argues Highlands and Islands list MSP Rhoda Grant

By Ali Morrison

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Rhoda Grant.
Rhoda Grant.

A DECISION to defer a final court ruling over the operation of a care home at the centre of a deadly Covid-19 hotspot "only continues the uncertainty" for its residents, a Highland MSP believes.

Rhoda Grant made her remarks after proceedings against HC-One's operating of the Home Farm care home on Skye were deferred for several more weeks.

The Care Commission has wanted the interim suspension of the licence granted to the operators of the Home Farm care home and there have been three court hearings in Inverness so far.

But today (Wednesday), there was again a delay in resolving the future of the home and its operators, with the Care Commission withdrawing its application for interim suspension at Inverness Sheriff Court. Both parties asked for further time to discuss who will finally run the home.

Responding to this morning’s decision for a continuation Ms Grant said: “This only continues the uncertainty for the people living there and for their relatives and these people have already been through enough.”

The Labour MSP added that it was encouraging to know care levels had improved since the drafting in of NHS Highland staff to the Portree facility, but she said it was “depressing to hear that a further inspection carried out at the home within the last 48 hours raised some issues in relation to the use of PPE and the storage of medicines”. She said it was “unbelievable that fundamental aspects of care are still slipping”.

She went on: “While waiting for the outcome of this case I have been asking questions in Parliament, and lodging written questions with the Scottish Government, the Care Inspectorate and NHS Highland. I have this week challenged the health secretary to explain why this virus rampaged through Home Farm Care Home and nowhere else in the community. I want to know whether test and trace has uncovered any links and I am awaiting answers.”

“The Scottish Government has been pointing the finger at the private care home sector for failing to adhere to its guidelines but my repeated demands to see the Scottish Government’s protocol for how care homes can manage this pandemic has revealed it has yet to be drawn up. This government has been caught short since the beginning and no one is going to forget that.”

But Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes said today's developments "demonstrate how seriously the Care Inspectorate are taking the standards of care".

The SNP MSP said: "The latest development regarding Home Farm demonstrates how seriously the Care Inspectorate are taking the standards of care and also how instrumental NHS Highland’s involvement has been to date.

"The residents continue to get the highest possible care, and NHS Highland continues to play a leadership and management role at Home Farm.

"I am confident that NHS Highland will not walk away and are committed to sustaining high levels of care at Home Farm over the long term."

Click here for more coronavirus news.

Related article: Coronavirus-hit care home's future still unknown after court gives more time to resolve dispute.

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