By Sam Whyte
A PENSIONER at the centre of a national outcry after he was “left to rot” in a squalid flat has died.
John Gibson, 90, passed away in hospital just days after he was rescued from his Edinburgh home after neighbours spotted him “bleeding to death”.
Mr Gibson, and his sister, Thomasina, who suffers from dementia, were being looked after by a private care firm, named today as Mears Group PlC.
It emerged today that Mears, which has its Scottish headquarters in Glasgow, has been the subject of 18 complaints to watchdog the Care Inspectorate north of the border.
Lothian and Borders Police also confirmed they are also looking into “the circumstances that led to Mr Gibson being admitted to hospital” although they said it was not a criminal investigation.
Mr Gibson and his sister lived in a flat in Comely Bank, Edinburgh, that they are understood to have inherited from their parents.
The couple – known to neighbours and Iain and Bunty – were supposed to receive four home visits a day under a care package paid for by the city council.
Mr Gibson was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after he was found in bed covered with blood.
It is understood emergency surgery was carried out but he could not be saved. His sister is being cared for in a specialist ward.
Scottish Conservative MSP John Lamont said Mr Gibson’s death was a “truly devastating development”.
He said: “People across Edinburgh who are receiving visits from carers need to be sure not only are they receiving the best possible levels of care, but that any problems will be spotted and acted upon.
“Of course, the past record of the company will be taken into consideration in any investigation, but people in Edinburgh will see for themselves that this alone is a worrying indication.”
Lothians Labour MSP Sarah Boyack questioned whether more should have been done to examine the practices of the firm.
“If there were complaints about this company, why wasn’t more notice taken and checks made?” she said. “We owe it to the Gibsons to find out why this service apparently failed so badly.
“This was a harrowing experience for this elderly couple and we need to make sure this is never repeated again.”
Ms Boyack also suggested the council should look into staff being under pressure and forced to make shorter visits meaning they are unable to carry out their roles to an adequate standard.
In total, 18 firms have been approved to provide care at home services in Edinburgh after winning tenders in August last year worth £48m.
Mears was tasked with covering the north-east Edinburgh area, alongside Carr Gomm Scotland and Ardmore Home Care Ltd.
The 18 complaints made about Mears related to six cases.
The company was awarded the care contract with the council in August 2011 and is scheduled to run until 2014.
A Care Inspectorate spokesman added: “We have received a number of complaints regarding the Mears care-at-home service that covers the Edinburgh and Lothians area and are working closely with the provider and Edinburgh City Council to ensure improvements are made.”
The Council’s health leader, Ricky Henderson, said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Gibson’s family at this time. We will ensure the ongoing council investigation looks fully into all the circumstances surrounding the care provided and what lessons need to be learned.”
Bernadette Walsh, chief operating officer for Mears, said: “We are very sorry to learn of the death of John Gibson. Our thoughts are with his sister, Thomasina, at this time.
“We will continue to give our full support to the council’s investigation and will look closely at their findings, to implement any suggested improvements quickly.
“We take the views of all our service users extremely seriously and every one is being contacted over the next two weeks.”
A spokeswoman for the firm said in relation to the 18 complaints: “I understand there that there were a number of complaints but they were not all separate incidents.”