Coronavirus latest: An Acarsaid workers negative for Covid-19, while MSP seeks answers on staff movements at Portree’s Home Farm

An Acarsaid in Broadford

Staff at An Acarsaid care home in Broadford all tested negative for coronavirus as part of screening which took place in Skye last week.

The home’s residents had already shown negative results when their tests were completed.

Testing for the virus was extended as part of efforts to try and tackle the spread of the virus in care homes – amid a major outbreak of Covid-19 at the Home Farm nursing home in Portree.

NHS Highland confirmed on Friday that all staff and residents at Budhmor Care Home, also in Portree, had tested negative.

There were earlier concerns around the An Acarsaid home after a worker there tested positive for the virus in the last week of March.

Despite the infection, follow-up tests of staff and residents weren’t carried out.

Highland Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has asked NHS Highland to start daily testing of all staff and residents at Home Farm.

Rhoda Grant wants answers on Home Farm

In an email to NHS Highland interim chief executive Paul Hawkins, Mrs Grant also urged that concerns over staff movements at the home should be investigated.

Mrs Grant has asked Mr Hawkins: “Did the health board know whether staff had been tested before they were moved in, and whether any contact tracing of staff had taken place to ensure staff brought in were not coming from other homes where patients had tested positive for the infectious disease?”

The MSP has also questioned Mr Hawkins on what steps the health board took to alert Home Farm about risks to residents once the threat of Covid-19 became known, and what steps were taken to identify care homes where residents might be at particular risk because of low standards of care flagged up in recent inspection reports.

Mrs Grant has called on Health Secretary Jeane Freeman to disclose how all separate bits of government advice had been passed on to care homes by the Scottish Government.

She added: “I understand the Home Farm Care Home has weak ratings with regard to infection control – was it identified by Health Protection Scotland as one which might need special attention or guidance before the outbreak occurred?  If this is the case, what additional action was taken to protect residents?”

Highlands and Islands Tory MSP Donald Cameron echoed calls for extra testing.

He said: “The focus must be on testing care home workers to reassure them that they are free of the disease and to minimise the chances of care homes being infected.

“It’s a sad fact that the proportion of deaths from Covid-19 in care settings in Scotland has been high and, as testing here has been carried out at a relatively low rate, it is right that there should be a great national effort to improve matters.

“I believe it would also help to instil confidence if the number of care workers tested was published regularly and I hope that the Scottish Government starts doing that on a more regular basis.”

Meanwhile, Skye councillors are urging NHS Highland and Home Farm operators HC One to communicate information to the local community “on a regular and timeous basis”.

Local Councillor Calum Munro said: “Everyone is keen to have regular and informative information about the situation in Portree, good information helps us manage a difficult situation”

Councillor John Finlayson added: “It is good to hear about the recent testing results have come back for Budhmor and An Acarsaid showing no cases of Coronavirus in these homes at this time.

“We need regular updates so that we and the wider community, who have been so supportive right across the island in responding Covid 19, receive the honesty and transparency we deserve so that we can all understand what is going on.

Councillor John Gordon praised the courageous and kind service that the workers in care homes are doing day after day.

“We are all in their debt,” he added.