A SKYE care home where seven people have died in a Covid-19 outbreak could be shut down after “serious and significant concerns” were discovered by inspectors. 

The Care Inspectorate has submitted an application to the courts for the cancellation of the registration for Home Farm in Portree – which could prevent owners HC-One from continuing to operate the facility. 

Concerns have been raised about the Scottish Government’s response to care home outbreaks amid demands the revelations become a “turning point” for the institutions. 

The announcement came after it was revealed that NHS Highland is “effectively running” the Skye care home. 

A Care Inspectorate spokesman said: “This could mean new care arrangements will be put in place for residents. 

“We are working closely with partners including NHS Highland to ensure that residents experience appropriate care during this difficult time.” 

The action was taken after an unannounced inspection of the facility “identified serious and significant concerns about the quality of care experienced by residents”. 

The spokesman added: “We understand this is a difficult and distressing time for residents, their loved ones and staff at the home. 

“However, our first priority is always the health and wellbeing of residents.” 

READ MORE: Coronavirus: New care home residents arriving without negative results amid Skye outbreak

During the daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the health board is “deploying additional NHS resources, including social care management, nursing leadership and direct care” immediately at the home. 

She added: “Our thoughts remain with residents, families and staff affected by coronavirus, including at Home Farm in Skye. I am directly engaged with developments at the home to ensure we continue to act as necessary for the wellbeing of residents and staff. 

“I am grateful to NHS Highland who have acted quickly and who will remain actively engaged on this matter for as long as is necessary, but I cannot comment any further on the details of this case whilst it is before the Sheriff Court. However I can say that the Scottish Government strongly supports action to ensure all care homes provide a safe home for their residents and we are actively working to ensure we are doing everything possible to ensure that is the case.” 

John Kirk, managing director for Scotland at Home Farm owners HC-One, said: “The situation at Home Farm has evolved rapidly over the past week and we have been incredibly grateful for the support that NHS Highland has provided to us during this time to ensure continuity of care to all residents at Home Farm.” 

NHS Highland chief executive Paul Hawkins said the board has “responded to the request from the Care Inspectorate and from HC-One to provide support in improving and sustaining the appropriate quality of care for residents and the necessary assistance in this difficult situation”. 

He added: “We will work closely with the Care Inspectorate and HC-One senior management.” 

At a previous unannounced inspection at Home Farm in January, the Care Inspectorate extended timescales for the institution to meet three requirements to the end of March after insufficient progress had been made. 

The requirements included ensuring “suitably qualified and competent” staff are working at the home and making sure the environment is hygienically cleaned to an acceptable standard. 

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who represents Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch at Holyrood, said: "This will be a very worrying time for the Skye community and residents of Home Farm Care Home, which has been run by private care home provider HC-One. 

“It will be reassuring that NHS Highland is now effectively running the home and has been providing additional staffing support since the outbreak. Without commenting on any legal cases, I said last week that there were very important questions for HC-One to answer about care at the home, and so I fully support actions taken by the Care Inspectorate to ensure standards are met." 

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Jeane Freeman scolds care home owners for not following guidance

She added: “The care and support of residents is the highest priority here, and the serious concerns raised by the Care Inspectorate about HC-One’s management is a matter of grave importance. 

“Our oldest and most vulnerable citizens deserve the highest levels of care, and the situation at Home Farm affects everybody in the local Skye community.” 

Labour has called on the Scottish Government to ensure that more protection is offered to care home staff and residents. 

The party's health spokesperson, Monica Lennon, said: “The Covid-19 outbreak at Home Farm care home has caused the deaths of seven people and remains a threat to the lives of dozens of residents and staff. 

“It is right and proper for the Care Inspectorate to intervene and take action, however, the public are right to ask what took so long and has enough been done to monitor and support care homes across Scotland, which now find themselves at the epicentre of this crisis. 

“Despite years of planning for a pandemic, the Scottish Government has been too slow in responding to pleas from care home workers and families on testing and PPE. This must be a turning point and the First Minister and the Health Secretary must ensure that every possible action is taken to save lives within care homes.”