NHS Highland to pilot contact tracing technology

NHS Highland has been selected as one of three Scottish health boards that will take part in the contact tracing pilot.

News that NHS Highland will pilot contact tracing technology from Monday (18th May) has been welcomed on Skye

Eilean a’ Cheo ward councillor John Finlayson said it is was “imperative” that NHS Highland was among the health boards selected to trial the tracing technology

Test, Trace, Isolate, Support is a public health intervention to identify cases of Covid-19, find the people they have been in close contact with, and then ask those close-contacts to self-isolate for 14 days to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.

The pilot, which is expected to last two weeks, will allow the health boards to test out the software which contact tracers will use to collect the information that they need digitally.

Councillor John Finlayson welcomed today’s announcement by the Scottish Government.

Skye and Raasay Councillor, John Finlayson said: “I believe it is imperative that NHS Highland is among the pilot areas for tracing technology given the issues that have been prevalent here on Skye in recent weeks.

“It is essential that as we move towards some kind of lockdown release we put in place measures that enable us to trace contacts more quickly.

“We have been waiting for a couple of weeks to see how developments in the Test, Trace and Isolate intervention was going to move forward in Scotland, so it is encouraging to see that something is now happening in NHS Highland and one would hope Skye is involved.”

To date, 10 residents of Home Farm in Skye have died following an outbreak of coronavirus in the Portree care home.

A total of 30 residents and 29 staff have tested positive for Covid-19.

A spokesperson for HC-One, the operator of Home Farm told the Free Press that a tenth resident of the home had died on Friday.

The statement read: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with all families who have lost a loved one from coronavirus and we are doing our utmost to support them during this difficult time.”

Reacting to the news, local MSP Kate Forbes said there were “many sore hearts in Skye and beyond…”

The Scottish Government also announced today (Sunday) that clinical and care professionals within NHS Boards and local authorities will have a lead role in oversight for care homes in their area to help deal with pandemic pressures.

The arrangements to strengthen the oversight of Scotland’s care homes were published by the Scotland Government on Sunday and will come into effect from Monday.

Under the new measures, every health board and the local authority must put in place a multi-disciplinary team comprised of key clinical leads and the area’s chief social work officer.

The team’s remit will include daily discussions about the quality of care in each care home in their area, with particular focus on the implementation of infection prevention and control, and the provision of expert clinical support to residents who have coronavirus.

The Skye community has suffered the loss of 10 people following the coronavirus outbreak at Home Farm.

A civil case has been scheduled to be heard at Inverness Sheriff Court on Wednesday following an application by the Care Inspectorate to cancel HC-One’s care home registration.

The Care Inspectorate announced on Thursday it had submitted the application to the sheriff court after identifying “serious and significant concerns about the quality of care experienced by residents at Home Farm care home in Skye” during an inspection.

HC-One in response said: “We accepted the shortcomings at Home Farm and apologise to our residents, their families, and the local community. We are fully committed to making significant improvements at the home and determined to put things right…”