Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, has made an urgent call for the Scottish Government to ramp up testing and supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) as Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, predicts as many over 65,000 Scots are currently infected with the Coronavirus.
Jackie Baillie has called for there to be a concerted effort to provide PPE to GPs and health workers in both primary and social care settings including for those in outreach roles such as district nurses. Current reports locally show that even where PPE has been supplied, there are only enough supplies to last a few days. In particular, a number of district nurses have contacted Jackie Baillie and informed her that in the areas that they cover, there are not enough protective masks to go around. This means health workers are having to make the impossible decision of when they should treat a patient whilst protected and when they should risk their own health.
She has also urged the Scottish Government to increase the number of tests being carried out. The World Health Organisation has stated that everyone should be tested for the virus. Jackie Baillie has pointed out that Scotland is still a long way off from meeting the standards of the WHO. These tests should be prioritised for those working within the NHS but should be extended to NHS staff family members to ensure that NHS staff are not forced to stay home and from work unnecessarily.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“Scotland is in the middle of a widespread and ever-growing crisis – the sooner the Scottish Government acts the less risk will be caused to health workers and the better we will be equipped to save lives.
“It is of course welcome that GPs and other health workers have been sent vital PPE. But reports that these supplies will only last a few days is deeply worrying and unless larger supplies are made available, it will be very difficult to protect staff and patients. It is concerning to hear that district nurses – who are in our communities and treating vulnerable individuals everyday – do not even have enough masks to go around. I would urge the Scottish Government to ramp up their efforts so that health and social care workers do not need to risk their own health, and the health of those they treat.
“The WHO is urging countries to test as many people as possible, but we are a long way off from doing so. I was concerned to hear that GPs were being forced to self-isolate for 14 days due to family members displaying symptoms without being offered a test. Testing our NHS staff would see them being off work for as little as 3 days, rather than the full 14 days recommended for self-isolation. Now more than ever, we need our health service fighting fit – testing as many of our medical personnel as possible to ensure our hospitals are properly staffed is the logical place to begin.
“I can’t express my thanks and gratitude enough for our health and social care staff who are working under extraordinary circumstances to keep us all safe. We need to make sure that they get the resources and support they need to do their job.”