Hundreds Of Disabled Scots Die Waiting For Care

13 January 2016, 06:00 | Updated: 13 January 2016, 09:53

A total of 276 sick and disabled Scots died last year while waiting for care packages to start, new figures have revealed.

Motor Neurone Disease patient and campaigner Gordon Aikman obtained the data, which he said exposed a "cruel crisis in care caused by cuts to our councils''.

Mr Aikman, who receives support from carers three times a day, said in the week beginning November 2 last year, 117 people across Scotland were waiting for a package of social care to start.

In that week demand for care totalling 12,747 hours went unmet, according to the figures.

Mr Aikman, who started his Gordon's Fightback campaign after being diagnosed with MND in 2014, said: "With hundreds of Scots dying for care, this study lays bare a cruel crisis in care caused by cuts to our councils.''

He added: "Behind these figures are real people with stories of desperation, misery and indignity.

"Imagine it was your mum or your son waiting months for the help they need to live their life.''

Mr Aikman, who wants all care staff to be paid the Living Wage, argued that now Holyrood had tax raising powers "it need not be this way'', insisting that "a caring, compassionate Scottish Government would end the cuts, properly invest in social care and pay care workers the Living Wage they deserve''.

Dave Watson, head of policy at the Unison Scotland trade union, which represents social care staff, said: "These shocking figures highlight the crisis facing social care services in Scotland and that includes an undervalued and overwhelmed workforce.

"If we want a social care system that can meet the needs of our population and treat people in a dignified way, then we need to invest in it.''

Scottish Care, the organisation which represents providers of care home services, also called for more investment in the system - warning that without it services to patients could be "severely compromised''.

Chief executive Ranald Mair said: "Scottish Care is clear that Mr Aikman and others who access care and support services need to have access to the right amount of quality care, at the right levels, at the time they require it.

"There needs to be more investment in the support available to people in their own homes in order to ensure this is possible."

He added: "We know there are already parts of Scotland where it is proving difficult if not almost impossible to recruit or retain homecare staff at the levels that current funding allows.

"This leads to people being stuck in hospital unnecessarily, as well as unacceptable restrictions on choice and flexibility of services.

"What's more, if this under-resourcing of homecare services continues, we will be facing a real crisis whereby the quality and the sustainability of homecare services are severely compromised.

"This could lead to people who require care services in Scotland being unable to access services in their own homes because these services are simply unable to operate, which is absolutely not the direction that health and social care services in Scotland should be heading in.

"Scottish Care and the homecare providers we represent are committed to ensuring safe, high-quality, responsive home support is available and believe there needs to be a review of the funding of these services if they are to be secured into the future.''