WEST Dunbartonshire has one of the highest numbers of deaths in care homes from Covid-19 in Scotland, figures have revealed.

National Records of Scotland published details of the 52 residents reported to have passed away in the area where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate.

Of that total, 26 people have died in care homes, 23 in hospital and three at home, up to April 19.

The figures are still provisional, and various organisations and experts in Scotland and around the globe have cautioned that the true figures could be much higher.

But it puts West Dunbartonshire joint sixth highest of all areas in Scotland for care home deaths. Glasgow is highest with 71, followed by Edinburgh, North and South Lanarkshire on 37 each, and East Lothian with 27. South Ayrshire also has 26.

The statistics were published after it was revealed 15 residents of Crosslet House care home in Dumbarton have died, along with nine at Hill View care home in Dalmuir, and eight at Castle View in Dumbarton.

West Dunbartonshire MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said: "Behind every number is a human being who leaves behind grieving family and friends. My heartfelt condolences go to every one of them.

"I have spoken with local care workers and providers who are working tirelessly to protect the elderly and vulnerable residents most at risk from this deadly disease. We must also remember that for every life lost there is a profound impact on the people dedicated to caring for them.

"Due to the pandemic, care homes in West Dunbartonshire and across the country are facing unprecedented challenges. It's vital that care providers and residents have confidence that if support is needed it will be put in place quickly to ensure the best possible standards of care.

"I will continue working in collaboration with MSPs, councillors and others to make sure everything that can be done is being done to tackle this public health emergency in West Dunbartonshire."

Jackie Baillie, Dumbarton MSP, said urgent action needed to be taken to protect staff and residents of care homes in the area.

Ms Baillie said she had raised the issue with the cabinet secretary for health, Jeane Freeman and West Dunbartonshire Council chief executive Joyce White.

She said: “These devastating figures have sadly confirmed what care home staff and the families of residents have long suspected – that Covid-19 is present in our local care homes and is having a devastating effect.

“The fact that half of all Covid-19 deaths in West Dunbartonshire have come from our care homes highlights the desperate need for urgent action to be taken.

"I have been contacted by numerous care home workers as well as many family members who have aired serious concerns about the situation.

"The staff work incredibly hard and they are united with families in wanting the very best for the residents in their care.

"In any care home setting it is vital that staff have all the PPE that they need to carry out their work and that every care home resident is tested."

She added: "The cabinet secretary announced welcome new measures that mean that anyone being transferred from hospital to a care home must test negative twice for Covid 19 before being released."

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council. which manages three out of 11 care homes in the area, said: “Sadly, the older population has been disproportionately affected by this virus and we recognise the significant loss these figures represent to each of the families affected.

"Within our care homes, staff are trained in bereavement support and have offered every assistance to relatives. In addition we’ve offered counselling to our staff, who are devoted to the people they care for.”