Serious concerns have been raised by Labour MSPs David Stewart and Rhoda Grant that the Highlands and Islands are facing a drought of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for those working on the frontline during the Covid 19 crisis.
NHS workers from the frontlines have reported that Hospitals and clinics across the region are having to ration out their PPE equipment, such as masks, as there is not enough to go around, or use equipment which is seriously out of date, leaving NHS workers having to conduct face to face appointments with no masks. This, despite some of these same workers falling into the vulnerability categories laid out by the UK and Scottish Governments.
David Stewart MSP lodged a Parliamentary Questions asking that the Scottish Government examined whether rural health boards had adequate supplies of personal protection equipment and what advise it was giving to NHS Boards on when such equipment should be worn.
David Stewart said “I have been told that 28% of staff are off in one Health board area and I expect that this will be reflected across the boards. It is a matter of urgency that those on the COVID 19 frontline are protected, not least because many of them are vulnerable and they are working continuously in potentially hazardous situations, but also because in a situation like this our lives depend on how many staff are available and well enough to work.
“I am concerned that because numbers in the Highlands and Islands are relatively low at the moment, with the exception of Shetland which has the highest percentage of cases, these areas are being forgotten about and not adequately provided for. But these are areas that, when the virus does hit, the effects could be catastrophic. There are less resources, less ICU’s, less intensive care trained staff and a high proportion of the population has underlying health conditions or are elderly.”
Rhoda Grant MSP backed Mr Stewart’s call, saying: “I have heard reports of staff being provided with out of date protective equipment when they are being provided anything at all. Obviously every area is clamouring for more PPE but it is vitally important that the Highlands and Islands are not left out of the current preparations.”