CARERS should blow the whistle on their employers if they believe they are too over-worked to do their jobs properly, a Lothians MSP has claimed.
MSP Sarah Boyack urged city carers to speak out about working conditions amid an investigation into the treatment of pensioners John and Thomasina Gibson, who were allegedly living in squalor despite being visited up to four times a day by staff working for council-appointed care agency Mears Group PLC.
Ms Boyack said that several private-sector carers had approached her with concerns that vulnerable residents were not getting the adequate standard of care because of some visits being limited to just 15 minutes.
She added: “I’ve previously warned that 15-minute visits would lead to poor quality services. Staff are worried about losing their jobs and are afraid to complain. We need them to speak out – even if anonymously.”
The News told yesterday how the Gibsons, who are siblings in their 80s, had been taken to the Western General Hospital from their Claremont Bank home in Bellevue, with a source revealing medical staff had been left horrified by their physical condition despite them being looked after under a council care package.
It is understood Mr Gibson had to receive emergency surgery for serious bleeding while his sister, who suffers with dementia, was being cared for on a specialist ward. Mears Group PLC has said it would co-operate fully with any investigation launched by the council, and that a member of its staff, in addition to a neighbour, had alerted Mr Gibson’s GP to concerns about his health.
Ms Boyack said she hoped the probe would examine the wider concerns of care service delivery in Edinburgh and how much time carers have to make their visits.
Councillor Ricky Henderson, the council’s health convenor, said “no stone would be left unturned” in the investigation into the Gibsons’ care.
He added: “If anything comes to light that we need to take action upon, we will do. We need to make sure these services are being properly delivered.”
Bernadette Walsh, chief operating officer of Mears Group PLC, said: “We are working with the council to fully investigate this matter. For the avoidance of doubt, it was in fact Mears that first contacted the GP to alert them to the situation.”