Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has welcomed the decision to roll out COVID-19 testing of care home visitors in December.
The lateral flow tests, which can identify whether someone is COVID-19 positive in as little as 20 minutes, are due to begin from Monday (7 December). The tests will be trialled in 14 care homes across North Ayrshire, Fife, Argyll and Bute, Inverclyde and Aberdeenshire before being rolled out across Scotland on 14 December.
Jackie Baillie has repeatedly called on the Scottish Government – including during a direct exchange with the First Minister – to introduce testing of care home visitors before Christmas. This will allow families to see loved ones over the festive period.
Originally, the Cabinet Secretary for Health Jeane Freeman had said that the lateral flow tests would be rolled out across all Scottish care homes by the beginning of February, with just 12 care homes taking part in a pilot roll out from 7 December. The plan was then to expand the roll out to 7 more local authority areas from 21 December, and that all other care homes and local authorities would have to wait until after Christmas and into the new year to begin lateral flow testing.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“I am glad that the Scottish Government has finally acted on my calls to test designated care home visitors to allow for visits before Christmas.
“This has been an awful year for everyone, not least for the thousands of care home patients who have gone most of 2020 without seeing a single loved one.
“Giving lateral flow tests to designated visitors from Monday will allow for some much needed social interaction and will help to end the deep loneliness felt by many care home patients this year.
“I encourage the Scottish Government to work with local authorities and care home providers to ensure that this new testing programme is rolled out across the board so that as many loved ones can be reunited as possible.”