A POSTCODE lottery of deaths from coronavirus in Scotland's care homes has been revealed in a new nationwide analysis which shows there has been one fatality for every 19 registered beds.

The findings have raised further concerns about the past levels of protection for residents and the continued scrutiny of Scotland's 1142 care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic where over 2000 have died.

The analysis shows that the Midlothian, Clackmannanshire and East Dunbartonshire council areas have registered the highest care home death rates with well over 100 deaths per 1000 care home places.

Meanwhile outside of Na h-Eileanan Siar and Orkney where there have been no deaths, Moray's care home death rate by the end of July was just 3.4 fatalities per 1000 places, while the Dumfries and Galloway was 8.6 and Highland's was at just 9.

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It comes as figures revealed further issues with the Scottish Government addressing a pledge to test all care home staff in Scotland every week.

READ MORE: No trace - Concern as effectiveness of Scotland's coronavirus tracking cannot yet be demonstrated

Scotland’s health secretary, Jeane Freeman announced on May 18 that all 53,000 care home staff would be offered weekly tests to help cut infections in homes, the site of around half of Scotland’s Covid deaths. But the Scottish Government have since been beset with problems in addressing that ever since.

The latest official figures show that just over 36,000 were reported to have been tested in the last full week.

An overview from Professor David Bell of the University of Stirling, a member of the International Long Term Care Policy Network, in June talks of failings through lack of testing, and not taking into account whether care homes were properly prepared.

Adam Stachura, head of policy at Age Scotland, said: “Some of the figures here are absolutely staggering and serve to remind us all of the devastating impact this virus has had on some of the most vulnerable in society and in care homes."

The Herald's analysis of care home deaths using official data shows Midlothian has the highest care home death rate with 75 recorded deaths, a rate of 135 per 1000 places.

In May Margaret Laidlaw, originally from Dalkeith who had Vascular Dementia, one of more than 1000 patients discharged into homes in Scotland to free up hospital beds for coronavirus patients.

Official data reveals that in February and March over one in three patients in Scotland (1500) on delayed discharge were moved to care homes and 2,800 went home.

Ms Laidlaw was in the Drummond Grange nursing home in Lasswade, Midlothian for just three weeks before she died there on May 22nd at the age of 65.

Her family said she was moved there from Highbank Care Home Dalkeith - an intermediate facility where she had lived for nine months - at the end of April, despite them raising fears about the move and stressing she was healthy where she was.

The family pleaded for her move to be delayed for up to six weeks but say they were told by the council's social work department she had to leave because of "bed blocking" and that her space at Drummond might become unavailable.

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Midlothian Council confirmed in June they were investigating a complaint from the family and a report had been sent to the Crown Office as part of a nationwide review into coronavirus related deaths in Scotland's care homes.

Five days after Ms Laidlaw's death 80-year-old Rodger Laing died in the same Midlothian home, with a similar story.

The 80-year-old had dementia and had been in Midlothian Community Hospital for about seven months.

He was moved from hospital into the Drummond Grange and Twenty-two days later he was dead. He had caught Covid-19.

His family also claim he was transferred there from hospital against their will because social workers said he was "bed blocking" - despite their father being "perfectly healthy and happy" where he was.

A report concerning Mr Laing's death has also been sent to the Crown Office as part of the nationwide review.

A damning Care Inspectorate report later emerged which found "significant concerns" with the use and supply of PPE and infection prevention and control practice - including waste and laundry management - at Drummond Grange following an inspection on May 28.

A spokesperson for care home provider Barchester Healthcare, which runs Drummond Grange, has said they "do not accept" the Care Inspectorate findings and have raised "concerns" about the care regulator's operation during the pandemic and will be seeking an investigation.

READ MORE: Scottish Care warns of new wave of virus in damning critique of government handling of Covid outbreak

Of the council areas where there are over 1000 care home places, Dundee and Edinburgh have registered the highest death rate at 80.8 and 78.9 respectively. In Glasgow there were 65.9 deaths per 1000 care home places.

The Dumfries and Galloway area had the lowest care home death rate of council areas with more than 1000 places. There were just nine deaths in a council area which has 1050 care home places.

Rod Edgar, Communication and Engagement Manager of Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care said the area must not be lulled into a false sense of security.

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"Every death resulting from the coronavirus is a tragedy, and our thoughts are with friends and relatives. We are still in a precarious position with regards to Covid-19 within our region and we must guard against complacency.

"This is a highly transmissible virus with potentially devastating consequences and we have a population in Dumfries and Galloway which has had very little exposure and therefore has very little immunity. We have seen how quickly the virus can spread despite best preventative efforts, and so we would urge everyone to follow the guidance put in place to help protect us, our loved ones and our communities."

The Highland Council area, had one of the lowest care home death rates with just nine deaths.

Official figures show there were just 16 care home deaths in the area which has 1784 registered places.

More than half of those came from Skye - where 10 residents died from coronavirus at Home Farm in Portree.

It has emerged that the Care Inspectorate is still seeking to remove HC-One as the care provider at the home after an inspection identified “serious and significant concerns” about the quality of care. .

In late June, the care home had an application to suspend its registration on an interim basis dropped after improvements were made.

At Inverness Sheriff Court, David Logan, appearing on behalf of petitioners Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland, which has been pursuing legal action against the operators of Home Farm care home on Skye, said an inspection in the last 48 hours found residents are no longer seriously at risk in terms of their health.

READ MORE: Revealed - The scale of "hasty" move of elderly from hospital to Scots care homes over coronavirus

But the Herald understands that a further court case is pending for an application to cancel the registration permanently.

A procedural hearing has been set for August 21 to decide whether NHS Highland take over or HC One is allowed to continue.

NHS Highland has been taking an active role, working with HC-One to ensure the welfare and safety of the 30 residents and 29 staff with regular inspections being carried out.

Mr Stachura said: “It’s quite hard at this stage to pin down exactly why care homes in some areas have been harder hit than others, but it seems that a range of factors such as larger homes having greater prevalence of outbreaks than smaller ones, whether they had access to regular testing or not, and irregular staffing complements could have had an impact.

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“This is why it is absolutely vital that the social care sector, Scottish Government, NHS and local authorities get together and undertake a full review to learn lessons and plan for the future to ensure this doesn’t happen again. But right now we need to be sure that we do everything we can to keep driving down transmission of this virus and stop people getting ill and dying.

“We feared early on that older people and those with underlying health conditions would be at greatest risk of becoming severely unwell with coronavirus and sadly that has proved to be true.

“Care homes have very much been on the front line and they have had a really tough time fighting this virus. Their access to the necessary PPE and testing was slow from the outset, despite their repeated calls for assistance and the heroic efforts of social care staff. The huge number of older people transferred from hospital to care homes over the past few months, often without prior testing, which could have had an impact on the transmission of this virus. There is also a concern about whether those in care homes have had sufficient access to medical treatment once they developed symptoms.”

Barchester Healthcare have said they would fight the "heavy-handed intervention" they claim they experienced saying it and "many families, care providers and politicians" had express concerns over the operation of the Care Inspectorate.

"Covid-19 is a terrible disease and a strong regulator with knowledgeable and qualified inspectors is required to support families and the care sector during the pandemic. However, until now, the CI has effectively been missing in action," it said.

"Specifically we have significant concerns regarding the Care Inspectorate (CI) inspection of Drummond Grange and subsequent behaviour so we are seeking an investigation. There are a litany of issues regarding the way in which the CI inspection was undertaken."

They include a claim there was a delay of three weeks in supplying information which would have allowed the home to both investigate issues raised, and take action.

"These delays by the Care Inspectorate have been raised by people throughout the pandemic. We appreciate that the role of the Care Inspectorate is to hold care providers to account but we are unable to address any concerns raised in a timely manner when, instead of urgently informing us to address a potentially serious concern, it is simply being used by the CI as an opportunity to damn providers."

Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland’s director of public healt said: “The geography of the NHS Highland Board has played a part in ensuring Highland, Argyll and Bute has had a lower prevalence of Covid-19 than other parts of Scotland and the UK.

“Within care homes, staff have worked hard to implement measures to control COVID-19 including enhanced hygiene, personal protective equipment and staff testing. Visiting restriction have also been in place in line with Scottish Government policy."

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Catherine Johnstone, chairman of Midlothian's Integration Joint Board, the body that governs the Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership, said. "We recognise that there will be a public inquiry in due course and NHS Lothian and partners, along with other relevant organisations will be full participants as required.

"It is important that we, like others learn from this unprecedented experience.In the meantime we continue to provide advice and support to all care homes across Lothian."

A spokesman for Clackmannanshire and Stirling Health and Social Care Partnership said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has raised particular challenges for care home residents, their families and the staff that look after them. We have rapidly developed and deployed a Care Home Assessment and Response Team (CHART) to support care homes with the challenges associated with the pandemic."

A spokesperson for the Care Inspectorate said: "We do not recognise the portrayal of our work outlined by the care provider at Drummond Grange.

"A full inspection report of our most recent inspection of that care home has been published which provides a full account of our findings, including aspects of care which had improved following an earlier inspection which raised serious concerns.

"The inspection was carried out over two days by inspectors from the Care Inspectorate, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and an NHS Public Health representative.

"A complaint made to us about our inspection was not upheld.

"The Care Inspectorate's focus throughout the pandemic has been the health, safety and wellbeing of everyone who experiences care.

"We have continued to inspect services where we deemed it to be necessary and proportionate, and we have not hesitated to take robust action where that is required."