CARE home staff across West Dunbartonshire were not being provided with regular Covid-19 tests for several weeks, it has been revealed.

Local politicians have hit out at the Scottish Government’s “negligence” over the issue and claimed more lives will be lost if West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) fails to act.

John Mooney, councillor for Clydebank Central, said: “On May 18, the cabinet secretary for health promised to introduce regular testing for all care home staff. This would happen even if staff did not have symptoms or they worked in a care home without recorded cases.

“The Scottish Government did not issue guidance to this effect after a delay of nearly three weeks and did not provide the council with necessary resources and permissions. This is negligence to say the least.

“The reason why this is vitally important is that 60 per cent of our care homes are still unaffected. We want them to stay that way. Unless all care home staff are regularly tested they could take the infection into an unaffected care home.

“I was assured that regular testing of all care home staff was to begin last week, but it appears that the protocol did not allow testing of asymptomatic people until this week. So not one, but two massive failures by the Scottish Government.”

WDC stated that they have been testing care home staff since May 11, with 735 (97 per cent of employees), both symptomatic and asymptomatic, having received a test.

But Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, said the council is being “economical with the truth”.

Ms Baillie told the Post: “Testing the staff on a one-off basis is not testing them routinely and every week.

“For care home staff to be able to continue their vital work whilst keeping themselves and residents safe, they must be repeatedly tested on a regular basis. I have been contacted by local social care staff who have informed me that this is not the case.

“WDC has failed to give a straight answer on who has been tested and when. It was only last week that the council admitted to having not started regular testing at all because of a lack of guidance from the Scottish Government.

“The council has a duty of care to all social care staff and care home residents. It must stop dragging its heels and immediately begin repeated, regular testing of all individuals regardless of symptoms. More lives will continue to be lost if it fails to act.”

A WDC spokeswoman said: “As of Monday, June 8, staff members will have repeat testing every week.

“We have tested every resident in our care homes whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, with a total of 612 tests carried out.”

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw MSP has also called for the government to get on top of testing care home staff as statistics reveal that across Scotland, only 11,195 have been tested out of an estimated 50,000.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman added: “We expect all health boards to offer weekly testing for all staff and have asked them to set out their plans for delivering this in their areas. We have also made clear that much greater action needs to be taken to ensure our priorities for testing are delivered quickly.

“We are also working to put in place any additional resources to address any local challenges. This includes making best use of mobile testing units and using the new UK Social Care testing portal, which will enable care homes to register to receive tests for staff which they can process, with the results shared with relevant public health bodies.”