A Scots taxpayer-funded health and social care partnership gave a "shocking" clean bill of health to a hotel housing the homeless during lockdown despite nine people dying there saying it was keeping vulnerable people "safe and secure".

Concerns about the use of B&B accommodation for the homeless during the coronavirus pandemic came into sharp focus in 2020 following the deaths at the Alexander Thomson Hotel of five men and four women.

The hotel, used as homeless accommodation during lockdown, closed in December, 2020 reportedly for refurbishment.

The Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership circular was distributed in December, 2020, the same month as the hotel, used as homeless accommodation during lockdown, reportedly closed for refurbishment.

A 38-year-old woman was found dead in the hotel on April 25, 2020 while a 21-year-old man was found on May 17 the same year.

READ MORE: 'Scandal' of the 200 homeless people who died in Scotland last year

Two 43-year-old men were then discovered on June 7 and 21 June before a 25-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman were both found on July 28.

A 49-year-old woman was then found dead on August 27.

The latest reported death was of a man found in the hotel on December 8, 2020.

As of November, last year, the death of a 48-year-old woman found at the three-star hotel - named after the famous architect Alexander Thomson - on August 28 was confirmed as a non-suspicious death. The deaths of the others were believed to be drug-related.

Shelter Scotland was among the agencies that raised "extreme concern" over the tragedies in October, 2020, saying that people "stuck in rooms for months without support... will have serious consequences for their wellbeing".


But two months later it has emerged Jim McBride, head of adult services, homelessness & criminal justice at the partnership in the circular singled out for praise the role the hotel played in a circular to staff.

He said he wanted to "personally wish to acknowledge the significant contribution that the Alexander Thomson Hotel has made to ensuring that some of the city’s most vulnerable and isolated citizen’s remained safe and secure from the onset and throughout the pandemic."

He said: “I would wish to recognise the considerable effort made by Homelessness Services and key partners in recently exiting from the Alexander Thomson Hotel. I personally wish to acknowledge the significant contribution that the Alexander Thomson Hotel has made to ensuring that some of the city’s most vulnerable and isolated citizen’s remained safe and secure from the onset and throughout the pandemic. I cannot underestimate the crucial part this hotel played in accommodating those large numbers presenting as homeless.

"The owners, staff and security demonstrated a real desire to help those in need and work hand in hand with Glasgow City HSCP, Police Scotland and our Third Sector partners to ensure residents were fully supported and in some instances, actually saving residents life’s [lives]. Given the uncertainty of the level of risk to health, I am truly grateful that hotel management and staff selflessly ensured that they were willing to come into work every day to keep people accommodated.”

The Scottish Tenants' Association said they were "shocked" by the commentary, saying it is "appalling that nine homeless people who died at the Alexander Thomson Hotel have been effectively airbrushed out of existence" in the circular and called for a public inquiry into the deaths.

The hotel came into sharp focus as the Herald revealed over 200 homeless people died in Scotland during the pandemic despite the offer of hotel accommodation to prevent deaths from Covid-19.


An estimated 256 people died while experiencing homelessness in Scotland in 2020 - a 20% rise in a year - with more than half of the deaths being drug-related.

A total of 8% were due to circulatory diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, with 5% due to cancers.

A majority of those who died (77%) were male, with 57% of male deaths and 65% of female deaths being people aged 45 or under.

READ MORE: Homeless deaths Scotland: West Dunbartonshire with highest rate

When lockdown began in March, hundreds of rough sleepers were brought in off the streets to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

With temporary accommodation full, many were placed in hotels.

But campaigners raised concerns that that Bed & Breakfast accommodation and hotels were not fit to deal with people in crisis and that consequently homeless people were losing out on access to drug and alcohol addiction services and mental health care.

Some 2000 homeless people were housed in bed and breakfasts in Glasgow alone in the first nine months while new rules were delayed that were meant to ensure that they are only to be used in emergencies and for no more than seven days.

At its peak as many as 600 homeless people were in in B&B and hotel accommodation in Glasgow.

The health partnership circular also included a statement from Harin Bassi of the RMG Hotel Group which includes the Alexander Thomson Hotel, which said: “It has been really impressive the way all key groups have worked together and with the hotels to ensure support was in place to immediately accommodate all homeless individuals and families during these unprecedented times.

Liaising regularly with Glasgow City HSCP teams, all the critical support services and working in conjunction with Police Scotland, has ensured appropriate care was given to the residents whilst also supporting our teams through challenging situations. This was a collective effort focused on providing appropriate solutions for all individuals. It has been rewarding to work in partnership and play our part in ensuring residents move into a more permanent residence."

According to the partnership, by the end of December, 2020, the numbers in temporary B&B accommodation fell from 617 at the peak of the pandemic to 467. It has now further dropped to around 450 spread across all hotels we have arrangements with.

All homeless people were eventually moved out of the 125-room Alexander Thomson Hotel.

Sean Clerkin, campaigns co-ordinator for the Scottish Tenants Organisation added: "The circular gives effusive praise and is completely indifferent to these deaths. It singles out the Alexander Thomson Hotel for their contribution in helping homeless people at the hotel when there were unnecessary and tragic deaths.


"We are calling for an independent public inquiry into these homeless people’s deaths at the Alexander Thomson Hotel and condemn the indifferent attitude of the authorities to these deaths reflected in the comments of this circular."

Analysis of the homeless deaths in 2020 shows the fatalities was consistently higher during the months of May to September 2020 than in previous years.

West Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde and South Ayrshire had the highest rates of homeless deaths within Scotland while six local authority areas had no deaths.

Six local authority areas had no deaths - Angus, Argyll and Bute, East Renfrewshire, Orkney Islands, Scottish Borders and Shetland Islands.

East Renfrewshire has had no identified homeless deaths for four consecutive years The report includes a monthly breakdown which shows the number of deaths was consistently higher during the months of May to September 2020 than in previous years.

In October, 2020 the partnership said in response to the deaths that they were "tragic" adding: "Our thoughts go out to the friends and families of those who have passed away.

"We have ensured the hotel is well supported by staff from voluntary organisations and the HSCP who provide in-reaching services and assistance to those who require it.

"These services provide accessible routes into mental health and addiction treatment services.

"We continue to review these arrangements with key partners regularly and where necessary, will make changes ensuring those with the most complex needs are supported."

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: "The individuals who sadly died were, as is routine, subject to critical review investigations. It was established that alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in eight of the nine deaths. Unfortunately, certain prolonged lifestyle choices of homeless people do negatively impact on their health and wellbeing.

“At this time, as other providers of accommodation for homeless people across the city were closing their doors the Alexander Thomson Hotel remained open and was keen to work with us to help address this difficulty."

The council said that the circular reflected the progress that was being made and added: "Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership, we have been helping accommodate homeless people and rough sleepers and responding to more than 20,000 cases of emergency accommodation.

"Our current hotel population accounts for around 12% of our homelessness population in Glasgow with the remaining 88% residing in settled temporary tenancies and supported accommodation.

“The council remains satisfied with the current arrangements in place at the Alexander Thomson Hotel."

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "All the deaths at the hotel have been investigated and all are non-suspicious. Reports have been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal in all cases."