Eleven vulnerable care home residents are injected with SALT WATER instead of Pfizer Covid vaccine

Eleven vulnerable care home residents are injected with SALT WATER


Eleven vulnerable care home residents were injected with salt water instead of the Pfizer Covid vaccine in Scotland, it has emerged.

Residents at the Millbrae Care Home in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, were given a shot of saline solution instead of the proper jab on December 16 last year.

A worker at the home — which specialises in dementia — detailed how ‘frazzled looking’ NHS nurses arrived at the home to deliver the doses.

The residents were all given the correct first dose later in the day after staff realised their mistake. 

NHS Lanarkshire issued an apology on Saturday last week but admitted it could not say how many other doses were administered in error.

It added that none of the residents given the wrong injection came to ‘any harm’ despite the blunder. At least 12 residents at the 40-bed home have died with Covid since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the Care Inspectorate watchdog.

Eleven vulnerable care home residents were injected with salt water instead of the Pfizer Covid vaccine at Millbrae Care Home (pictured) in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland, last December

Eleven vulnerable care home residents were injected with salt water instead of the Pfizer Covid vaccine at Millbrae Care Home (pictured) in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland, last December

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The mixture of salt and water is usually used to dilute vaccines after they are removed from freezer storage but was dished out on its own by staff when they forgot to mix it with Pfizer shots.

Documents seen by the Sunday Mail in Scotland that have only now been released detail the mistake as well as other alleged failings at the care, including that staff were forced to buy residents food from nearby garages during the height of the pandemic last winter.

It comes as research by the largest trade union in the UK Unison suggested care home residents are dying alone and their everyday needs are being ‘neglected’ because staffing levels are at such a ‘dangerously low’ level.

The union found that 31 per cent of care workers said that staffing levels are dangerously low, getting worse and negatively affecting care quality, which is leaving carers feeling ‘exhausted, angry and upset’.

‘Neglected’ care home residents are dying alone because of low levels of staffing, survey suggests 

Care home residents are dying alone and their everyday needs are being ‘neglected’ because staffing levels are at such a ‘dangerously low’ level, research suggests.

People in residential care are being denied a dignified end to their lives as there are not enough staff to sit with them during the final hours, according to a survey by Unison.

The union found that 31 per cent of care workers said that staffing levels are dangerously low, getting worse and negatively affecting care quality, which is leaving carers feeling ‘exhausted, angry and upset’.

And two thirds (67 per cent) are considering leaving the sector, which Unison says is a ‘disastrous but inevitable’ consequence of years of low wages and morale and underfunding.

The union surveyed 1,637 employees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland between October 13 and November 4 who work in care homes, or help people at home or in supported living.

Respondents told of how people are not getting regular washes, some are not getting dressed until the afternoon and others are being put to bed early so staff can attend to other residents.

They described care as ‘depressingly rushed’ and said its quality is declining, with ‘unsafe’ staffing levels on both day and night shifts.

One respondent said: ‘The dying aren’t dying with dignity because there’s not enough staff to sit with people in their final hours.

‘Residents are being neglected, not having baths, meals are late, and staff are exhausted.’

Another said: ‘The level of care is declining as there aren’t enough carers to do the job. People are being left in wet, dirty beds.’

Suzanne, a residential care worker, described staff levels as ‘dangerously low’ at times, with care ‘well below acceptable standards’.

The 40-year-old said: ‘I’ve had to leave residents in tears because I had to care for someone else who also needed me.’

Almost all respondents (97 per cent) said their employer is experiencing staffing shortages, with burnout, overwork and low pay among the main reasons cited.

Some 47 per cent agreed with the statement that shortages are having a negative impact on care, and 31 per cent agreed that staffing levels are also dangerously low and getting worse.

A fifth (20 per cent) said their workplace is managing despite the shortages, while one per cent said their workplace is fine and is experiencing no serious staffing shortages. 

Opposition politicians in Scotland slammed the nation’s Government for allowing ‘jaw-dropping’ levels of complacency to exist in the care sector during the pandemic.

Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie told the Daily Record: ‘This alarming incident raises serious questions about the management of the vaccine programme and care sector.

‘It is astonishing that the SNP doesn’t know how common these kinds of incidents are. Their complacency is jaw-dropping.’

And Scottish Lib Dem leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton said ‘mistakes like these cannot be allowed to happen’.

Meanwhile union bosses claimed the mix-up showed the need for investment in staffing levels in the care sector.

GMB Scotland organiser Kirsty Nimmo said: ‘It’s another shameful case in point that social care has been the crisis within a crisis, and it shows yet again why we need to radically tackle the understaffing crises in both care and the NHS.

‘The First Minister said at the outset of the Covid pandemic that ‘health and social care go hand-in-hand’ — that’s correct but it also means that if social care goes down then so will the NHS.’ 

Trudi Marshall, Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire nurse director, said: ‘None of the residents who received the vaccine diluent came to any harm and they were re-vaccinated on the same day.

‘The residents, their relatives and the care home staff were informed and we offered our sincere apologies for the error.

‘This happened at the beginning of the care home vaccination programme and measures were put in place immediately to avoid any similar incidents.’

A Scottish Government spokesman told the Sunday Mail: ‘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.’

The home’s operator, Thistle Healthcare, said it is aware of the mistake. 

It comes as Unison’s survey suggested care home residents are being denied a dignified end to their lives as there are not enough staff to sit with them during the final hours. 

The union surveyed 1,637 employees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland between October 13 and November 4 who work in care homes, or help people at home or in supported living.

It found two thirds (67 per cent) of staff are considering leaving the sector, which Unison says is a ‘disastrous but inevitable’ consequence of years of low wages and morale and underfunding. 

Respondents told of how people are not getting regular washes, some are not getting dressed until the afternoon and others are being put to bed early so staff can attend to other residents.

They described care as ‘depressingly rushed’ and said its quality is declining, with ‘unsafe’ staffing levels on both day and night shifts.

One respondent said: ‘The dying aren’t dying with dignity because there’s not enough staff to sit with people in their final hours.

‘Residents are being neglected, not having baths, meals are late, and staff are exhausted.’

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said a pay rise announced by the Government would bring some ‘early festive cheer’ to care workers and persuade many on the verge of quitting to stay.

She said: ‘Care workers are leaving in their droves — burnt out from the pandemic, exhausted from covering under-staffed shifts and fed up with low wages.

‘This is nothing short of a nightmare for families worried about the care of their loved ones, overworked employees struggling to cope and employers concerned they won’t have the staff to stay open.

‘The care sector is desperately short of workers and can’t wait months for the Government to come up with a solution.’

Earlier this month the Government launched a recruitment campaign in a bid to fill more than 100,000 social care vacancies.

It has also provided a £162.5million workforce fund to help providers recruit and retain staff until the end of March.



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A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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