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16 deaths confirmed at pair of north-east care homes

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A total of 16 people have died following outbreaks at two north-east care homes.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has confirmed that it is investigating deaths at both Inchmarlo House care home near Banchory, and at the Deeside Care Home in Cults.

At Inchmarlo, there have been seven deaths, and at the Deeside facility there have been nine deaths.

In total, at least 52 cases have been detected at the Cults care home over the past four weeks, and yesterday it was confirmed that at least 91 people had tested positive at Inchmarlo.

Both facilities have confirmed deaths among those that tested positive for Covid.

A spokesman for the COPFS said: “COPFS has established a dedicated Covid-19 Death Investigation Team (CDIT).

“The members of the CDIT are staff experienced and skilled in death investigations and/or in health and safety investigations.

“CDIT is working together with other agencies, for example the Health and Safety Executive, local authorities, the Care Inspectorate and Police Scotland to ensure that appropriate investigations are undertaken by the relevant authorities in relation to these deaths.

“This will also allow COPFS to make informed decisions about whether further investigation is required.”

He added: “The nature and extent of the investigation that is required in relation to any particular death or group of deaths will depend on the particular circumstances.

“In some cases, the investigation required might be quite limited, and in others it might be more extensive.

“In appropriate circumstances, as is always the case, it may be decided that a death, or deaths, should be the subject of a fatal accident inquiry or prosecution.”

The COPFS said investigations into the deaths at the two care homes are ongoing, and “the families will continue to be kept updated in relation to any significant developments”.

Incident management teams, composed of staff from NHS Grampian, the care homes, and both the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnerships, have been established for both Inchmarlo and Deeside.

A spokesman for Deeside Care Home said: “We are deeply saddened by these deaths and once again, we extend our sympathy to all those who have lost a loved one.

“This is an extremely difficult time for those in our care, their families, friends and our staff.

“Their health, safety and wellbeing are of paramount importance and, as such, we are committed to doing everything we can to achieve this goal.

“Throughout this pandemic, the home has been fully equipped with all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and has adopted and adhered to all government guidelines as and when these have been issued.

“We provide staff training in safe and effective infection prevention and control procedures again in line with government guidelines.

“We are continuing to talk to our residents’ named next of kin about this matter and we are working closely with the appropriate regulatory authorities.

“Our aim is always to provide the best possible care for our residents, and we pay tribute to our loyal, hard-working and committed employees for continuing to care for our residents at this most difficult time.”

A spokeswoman for the Inchmarlo House care home said: “The loss of any member of the Inchmarlo House Care Home family is felt deeply and our thoughts and sympathies are with all of those affected. We are in constant communication with residents and their families, and we are grateful to our staff for their efforts in supporting residents with the utmost care, compassion and professionalism.

“The care of our residents is always our primary focus and we will continue to work with the relevant authorities to find a path through these extremely difficult days.”