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Family hit with £800 care home bill where gran died from Covid after just three weeks

A heartbroken daughter was sent an £800 bill from the care home where her mum died of Covid three weeks after arriving.

Retired hairdresser and grandmother-of-six Margaret Laidlaw, 65, died at Drummond Grange in Lasswade, Midlothian during the first wave.

The vascular dementia sufferer had been moved there against her family’s will from a local authority-run facility, reports the Daily Record.

Charlene Roy, 41, said of her mum: “I just feel like she never had a chance.”

A report on Margaret’s death has been sent to the Crown Office as part of a nationwide review into coronavirus deaths in care homes and Charlene is suing Drummond Grange owner Barchester Care.

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Care home victim Margaret Laidlaw with her daughter Charlene Roy

She said: “At the beginning of April last year we were told by the council they wanted mum out of temporary accommodation. We were told a place at Drummond Grange had come up.

“I didn’t understand the rationale for the move and I don’t think there was one.

“We raised concerns but mum agreed to go – I don’t think she fully understood the severity of the pandemic.

“She was moved on April 29. I got a call on the Monday before saying there was Covid in the care home but it was contained and not in the unit mum was going to.

“It was obvious to me that all the proper infection control measures were not being taken at the home when we finally got in the day before mum died three weeks later.

Margaret with her son Iain Laidlaw and grandson Lewis

“There wasn’t enough PPE and the staff just didn’t have the training.”

Barchester Care have said their staff always followed government guidance.

Charlene told how she was shocked to receive the bill from Barchester.

She added: “I couldn’t believe it when the home sent us a bill for £800 for the three weeks she was there.

“I then got a text on the day of her funeral from the home, asking what I thought of their communication skills.

“The whole thing was utterly tragic and I feel strongly that we need to get to the bottom of what happened because a lot of these deaths were avoidable.

“We need a full public inquiry and people need to take legal action because nothing will change if they don’t.”

Bruce Shields, a partner with Thompsons Solicitors, is representing the families of Covid-19 victims.

He said: “We have seen a significant increase in the number of relatives approaching us in consequence of the suffering and deaths of loved ones due to Covid.

Drummond Grange in Lasswade

“We now represent over 100 clients, a large number of whom have had their mum or dad dying alone in hospital or in a care home.

“There has been much said about the liability of NHS health boards when it comes to Covid deaths in hospital and it is only right that these questions are asked of, and answered by, those in charge of our NHS.

“The NHS is not, however, responsible for what takes place within care homes owned, operated and controlled by private companies.

“We have evidence in such cases that private companies operating care homes have neglected their duty of care to the residents they are required by law to protect.

“We have uncovered evidence to support our case that the negligence of care home operators has led to unnecessary suffering and premature death.”

Barchester said: “We cannot comment on individual cases.

“However, the team at the home have always followed the ever-changing Government and public health guidance which was put in place at the time and reported all Covid-19 information to the authorities.

“We are confident in the processes in our homes, with all of our staff trained in infection control.

“Our sympathies are with all the families who lost loved ones during this terrible pandemic.”

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