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Scottish government under pressure to improve PPE provision

Open letters by GMB doctors and care workers says front-line staff still missing adequate equipment

THE Scottish government is under increasing pressure to improve provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), following criticism from doctors and care workers across the country. 

Two open letters, one signed by doctors and another by care workers with GMB Scotland, claimed that many front-line health workers were still without adequate equipment. 

More than 100 medics said that front-line staff were risking their lives dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak because they did not have suitable aprons, masks and eyewear. 

BBC Scotland said that the medical professionals reported “grave concerns about the adequacy of what has been given.”

The letter says that some health professionals have been issued with equipment which is only protective against large-droplet spread, but not to smaller droplets or anything airborne, as well as eye cover which does not provide enough protection.

GP Dr Shahzad Hanif, who co-ordinated the open letter, told the broadcaster: “It’s not just the quantity of PPE, which the government has so far been focused on, but it’s the quality that we feel is simply not adequate to provide enough protection for us.”

The medics’ concerns echo those of care workers in a letter published on Tuesday evening by GMB Scotland, which states that workers, their families and vulnerable clients are being left at risk. 

Demanding urgent action, it says that care workers have lost confidence in decision-makers.

“They need urgent reassurance from the Scottish government that they will be given the protective equipment and testing that they need if they are to safely deliver care,” GMB Scotland’s Drew Duffy said.

At the government’s press briefing today, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “All of us are completely determined to do everything we can to ensure that our staff in health and social care have the equipment that they need to do their jobs as safely as possible. 

“We will discuss the issue of PPE and its use with unions and [local authorities body] Cosla later today. 

“We are absolutely clear — as issues arise I want to know about them so I can act on them.”

She said that she had met with social-care body Scottish Care on Tuesday to discuss concerns raised, and that trade unions were discussing PPE with government officials on a daily basis.

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