Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Elderly care home residents injected with salt water instead of Covid vaccine
Opposition politicians have hit out at the Scottish Government and Coatbridge’s MSP has vowed to “raise the matter” with his Holyrood colleagues after residents at a Coatbridge care home were injected with salt water instead of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Eleven elderly patients were administered a saline solution after an astonishing blunder at the 40bed Millbrae Care Home facility, which specialises in caring for people with dementia.
While issuing an apology, the health board also admitted it cannot say how many other “vaccination errors” may have occurred.
The shocking gaffe, which occurred last December, was revealed in documents which also allege other failings at the home.
These include workers having to buy food for residents from a local garage because the kitchen had closed down and having to cut up tights to make pants for holding incontinence pads in place.
Responding to the vaccine blunder, Central Scotland Conservative MSP Graham Simpson told the Advertiser: “This should never have happened and we need to get to the bottom of why it did.”
Residents at a Coatbridge care home were injected with salt water instead of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The elderly patients were given saline solution after an astonishing blunder at the 40-bed Millbrae Care Home facility.
Eleven people at the home, which specialises in caring for those with dementia, were wrongly jabbed.
The health board issued an apology but admitted it cannot say how many other “vaccination errors” may have occurred.
The Scottish Government confirmed it was aware of the incident – which was not made public. It said it did not hold accurate nationwide information on any similar mistakes.
The blunder has been revealed in documents, which also allege other failings at the home, seen by the Advertiser’s sister title the Sunday Mail.
They detail how “frazzled looking NHS nurses” arrived at Millbrae on December 16 last year to administer correct vaccines after residents were earlier wrongly injected from vials of saline solution.
A small amount of saline is supposed to be mixed with the pure Pfizer/biontech vaccine after it is taken out of freezers and thawed and then injected into patients.
Opposition politicians believe the Millbrae incident raises serious questions for ministers.
Conservative Graham Simpson, MSP for Central Scotland said: “This is an alarming revelation.
“We should have known about this long ago but it is typical of life under the SNP that things like this are kept quiet.
“This should never have happened and we need to get to the bottom of why it did. We also need to know if there have been other incidents like this.”
Labour MSP Richard Leonard, who also represents Central Scotland, added: “This is very concerning and again highlights the need for a proper National Care Service to tackle understaffing, low pay and poor working conditions.
“We clapped for our carers during the pandemic; now we have to do more to show we truly the value the work they do to look after our loved ones.
“The Scottish Government must also investigate if this is more widespread and report on what it plans to do to improve conditions for social care staff and residents.”
Coatbridge’s MSP, Fulton Macgregor, contacted the care home and also plans to “raise the matter” with the Scottish Government.
He told the Advertiser: “I learned of this awful and unfortunate news over the weekend and it is certainly very concerning for all involved.
“I’m glad NHS Lanarkshire have put measures in place to ensure the situation is being addressed, however there are still questions regarding how this transpired.
“I have contacted Millbrae Care Home to discuss the situation and offer my assistance and I intend to raise this matter with the government. As always, any constituents who are affected are able to contact my office for support.”
Staff at Millbrae, who have lodged documents in a collective grievance case, have detailed other alleged failings.
It includes how workers had to buy food for residents from a local garage because the kitchen had closed down, as well as having to cut up tights to make pants for holding incontinence pads in place and “begging” for cleaning wipes.
Employees also raised concerns over pay, staffing and conditions and said they had no confidence in management, who made them carry out tasks without proper training.
A source at the home said: “The work is relentless because there aren’t enough staff so you don’t get the time to properly care for the residents. Things are the same for NHS staff dealing with vaccines; they were clearly frazzled and that is when hard-working people make mistakes.”
Millbrae operator Thistle Healthcare confirmed it was aware of the jab blunder at the home.
It refuted the grievance allegations and insisted there has been no food shortage, no shortage of hygiene products or issues on employee pay.
A spokesman said: “This is the first time this matter has been brought to our attention and we do not recognise the events as described in this document. The care sector as a whole faces immense challenges from staff shortages and the impact of Covid patients being transferred to care homes from hospital at the start of the pandemic.
“We are working alongside the Care Inspectorate to mitigate the impact of this as a process of continuous improvement.”
An official inspection report carried out in July by Scottish watchdog the Care Commission rated Millbrae’s performance as “weak” in supporting residents’ wellbeing and “weak” in providing support during the pandemic.
The report said: “Staff seemed to be in a hurry and were very task focused. They did not have adequate time to spend with residents to provide person-centred support.”
It also said medication management was an area of concern, with “numerous examples of poor recordings”.
The Crown Office is investigating the deaths of 12 residents at Millbrae in line with a commitment to investigate more than 3000 deaths at care homes linked to Covid-19.
Trudi Marshall, Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire nurse director, confirmed the vaccination blunder, which involved NHS staff.
She said: “None of the residents who received the vaccine diluent came to any harm and they were revaccinated on the same day.
“This happened at the beginning of the care home vaccination programme and measures were put in place immediately to avoid any similar incidents.”
The Scottish Government has vowed to introduce a National Care Service to tackle concerns over the way the industry is run.
A spokesman said: “We were notified of the incident at the time and reassured by the health board that no harm was caused and that all residents affected received the appropriate vaccine the same day.”