Veterans’ charity under fire again in new probe

SCOTLAND’s leading veterans’ charity has been criticised by inspectors for the second time in four months.
Leadership at Erskine’s Edinburgh centre has again been branded “weak” following fresh checks. The charity is also facing financial challenges after it was revealed that the care group spent £5 million more than it raised last year.
Established in 1916, Erskine provides round-the-clock care for former servicemen and women. Centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Bishopton care for around 1200 veterans of various conflicts.
Feted by politicians, Erskine’s patron is Prince Charles, and it has received support from Sir Sean Connery’s charity.
However, an inspection in April led to criticisms. Care watchdog Social Care & Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS) gave Erskine’s Edinburgh facility poor marks for the quality of care and support, management, and staffing.
The inspection flagged up “inadequate record keeping of fluids and food” and said the home had also not been keeping accurate records of medication provided. Information for families also fell short.
Days before the report was published, Major Jim Panton resigned as Erskine’s chief executive. A spokesman said it was “certainly not the case” that his departure was linked to the report.
It can now be revealed that a second unannounced inspection, in August, also uncovered problems, concluding that management and leadership was “weak”.
The report said: “The home has not had any continued leadership due to the turnover of staff … which includes senior managers, managers and registered nurses. This has impacted on the quality of service.”
However, staffing and quality of care and support had been upgraded to “adequate” since April.
The poor performance contrasts with the Edinburgh home’s positive inspections in 2009, when it achieved “good” or “very good” grades.
The job description for a new chief executive also makes clear Erskine’s financial challenges. It states that total income for 2009-2010 was £22.8m, while expenditure was £27.9m. It was previously revealed that there had been a fall in donations.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “It is really disappointing that those at the very top are letting the whole organisation down by failing to make the necessary improvements needed. There needs to be a thorough look at how this organisation is run.”
Jackie Baillie MSP, Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, said: “It is to be hoped that urgent steps will now be taken to make the necessary improvements.”
An Erskine spokesman said: “Now we have a permanent management team in place we are confident the home will once again achieve the high standards that have become synonymous with Erskine.”