Criminal claim possible for COVID-19 deaths at Home Farm Care Home

Criminal claim possible for COVID-19 deaths at Home Farm Care Home

Professor Peter Watson

Professor Peter Watson, solicitor advocate at PBW Law, has written to the Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC on behalf of two families who lost loved ones in the COVID-19 outbreak at Home Farm Care Home on Skye, requesting full consideration of whether a crime was committed by the operators of the home.

Ten residents died from COVID-19 at Home Farm Care Home, operated by HC-One, and 36 members of staff tested positive for the virus.

Professor Watson is acting for Councillor John Gordon and his sister Mary MacCaskill who lost their father John Angus Gordon; and for Norma Morrison who lost her mother Margaret Morrison.

Professor Watson said: “The report published by the Care Inspectorate is suggestive of a high degree of negligence and conduct that may be regarded as reckless.

“The inspectorate’s serious concerns over infection control measures at the home date back to November 2019 and continued through to May 2020. Staff from other HC-One homes were redeployed to work at Home Farm, bringing with them a serious risk of infection.

“In addition, there was an alarming lack of transparency and lack of cooperation on the part of HC-One. These failings may potentially lead to criminal charges being brought under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 or charges of culpable homicide, for which there is legal precedent.”

The Care Inspectorate visited the home on the 4th, 6th and 13th of May. The Care Inspectorate report dated 18 May 2020 noted serious and ongoing concerns over the incorrect use of PPE, incorrect disposal of PPE, lack of infection control measures and an appalling lack of cleanliness at the home.

An NHS Highland infection control audit on 12 May 2020 also identified staff training in the safe and effective use of PPE as a priority.

The Care Inspectorate further reported concerns that three HC-One staff refused initially to take a test for Covid-19 despite being advised to do so by the public health authorities.

As a result of the concerns identified, the Care Inspectorate made an application to the sheriff at Inverness Sheriff Court seeking cancellation of the care service’s registration under section 65 of the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010. The application was based on the Care Inspectorate’s belief that there was a serious risk to the life, health or wellbeing of residents. This application was subsequently withdrawn.

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