Scottish Care continues to have major concerns about Operation Koper. We recognise that police officers are undertaking investigations as a result of a direction from the Crown Office acting under the personal instruction of the Lord Advocate.
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.
It has been argued that the NHS is treated in the same way when there is an unexplained death and that this is just a new system for the care home sector to deal with. We totally reject that analysis. There is clear unequal treatment of the care home sector in this whole process. We are not aware of NHS staff being interviewed about every Covid death that takes place in a hospital even if patients have caught the virus which killed them when in an NHS setting and for unrelated reasons. We are not aware that there is a demand upon staff to respond to nearly 3 dozen questions, to provide extensive personal records and files for patients, which are taking frontline staff away from their duties of care and support in the middle of a pandemic.
The operation from the Lord Advocate’s instructed Crown Office investigation has both in its timing, extent and unequal treatment of the care home sector caused considerable distress. Whilst it is of course critical and essential that assurance is given to families and the wider community that everything that could be done was done to protect their loved ones, the balance between accountability and intrusive investigation has not, we believe, been one which the Crown Office has achieved. We very much regret the Lord Advocate chose to treat the care home sector with this degree of disproportionate focus which has done little to enhance community assurance or indeed professional confidence.
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.