Crown Office investigating 474 care homes in Scotland over Covid deaths

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Covid-linked deaths are being investigated at more than 450 care homes in Scotland.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service’s dedicated Covid-19 Death Investigation Team (CDIT) is probing the circumstances of coronavirus-related deaths in 474 care homes across the country.

The CDIT was set up in May after Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said all confirmed or suspected coronavirus deaths in care homes should be reported to the Crown Office, as well as deaths of people who may have contracted the virus at work.

The team had received 2,242 death reports as of Monday, with a majority of those believed to be linked to people who lived in care homes.

There are 14 staff allocated to the CDIT team, including eight lawyers.

Donald Macaskill told the BBC: “Frontline staff and managers are spending huge amounts of time providing data and information for these investigations.

“This would be challenging at the best of times but in the middle of a pandemic and with dozens of care homes fighting active outbreaks, this has added to a real sense of exhaustion, dismay and disappointment.

“We believe these investigations are wholly disproportionate and are causing irreparable damage to the professional integrity of nurses and carers who are exhausted beyond measure in fighting the virus.”

A Crown Office spokesman said the CDIT team had received 1,905 death reports as the time of the last published figure in December, with 629 reports in that month alone.

The latest 2,242 figure includes retrospective reports, he said.

He added: “The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has established a dedicated team to deal with reports of Covid-19 or presumed Covid-19 deaths in care homes, or where the deceased may have contracted the virus in the course of their employment.

“The Covid-19 Deaths Investigation Team receives and deals with those reports and will work with the relevant agencies to ensure that all necessary and appropriate investigations are undertaken and that each investigation progresses as expediently as it can.”

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