Change in reporting of care home Covid-19 deaths
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC, in consultation with the chief medical officer, Police Scotland and National Records Scotland, has issued updated guidance on the reporting of Covid-19 related deaths.
Having kept matters under regular review, it is no longer necessary to report to the procurator fiscal the deaths of all care home residents or workers who may have contracted Covid-19 in the course of their employment or occupation.
The Crown Office established a specialist unit in May 2020 to receive reports of Covid-19 related deaths and to carry out any investigation which may be required. Since then, the team have received over 5,500 death reports.
Ms Bain said: “The situation created by this pandemic is unlike any other in our lifetimes and the scale of the Crown’s investigation is unprecedented. It is without doubt the single largest investigation of deaths in Scottish history.
“Thousands of Scottish families lost a loved one and the impact of that is still sorely felt. I understand that an investigation can be difficult for those involved but it is a process which will assist with the eventual understanding of these deaths and may prevent further loss of life in the future.
“The reporting guidance to medical practitioners has been kept under continuous review and, following agreement with the Chief Medical Officer, Police Service of Scotland and National Records Scotland, will now be changed.”
The funding required to carry out this task was recognised in June 2022 when COPFS was successful in its request to Scottish government for additional in year funding of £2.2m (full-year equivalent £4.4m).
Ms Bain added: “The funding from the Scottish government will ensure that this extensive and detailed work can continue to progress with the ongoing recruitment of additional staff to tackle covid deaths.
“Every single one of these deaths is a tragedy which requires to be fully considered. I am committed to ensuring that the facts and circumstances surrounding these deaths are thoroughly investigated and answers given to bereaved families.”