Argyll carers ‘at unnecessary risk’ – trade union

Dawn MacDonald, branch secretary, Highland Healthcare UNISON

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Carers and health workers in Argyll and Bute are at risk due to lack of coronavirus personal protective equipment (PPE) and unclear guidance, says a trade union.

In the wake of the death of a care at home worker in neighbouring West Dunbartonshire, the situation for Argyll and Bute staff was this week slammed by UNISON

In a statement the union said: ‘The situation with regards to PPE for key workers in Argyll and Bute has been at best mixed and at worst disgraceful.

‘At what is already a stressful period for everyone, not having clear guidance or the kit is sending anxiety through the roof and is dangerous.

‘The UK and Scottish governments published new guidance on April 2 making it clear that care at home staff and other care workers should have access to masks and eye protection so they can don the appropriate PPE when this is needed.

‘We hoped this would bring swift change on the ground, [but] in too many cases this has not happened yet.’

Dawn MacDonald, branch secretary, Highland Healthcare UNISON said: ‘Carers, no matter whether employed by the NHS, council, voluntary organisations or the private sector should have the right to protect themselves, patients and others from cross infection.

‘If all carers do not have access to the proper PPE the inevitable consequence will be we will have staff go off sick, thus reducing the very staff pool we need to care for the most vulnerable people in our communities.’

An NHS Highland spokesman said: ‘The safety of our health and social care staff is a priority and we follow the Scottish Government national guidance in relation to the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment.

‘We have a robust distribution system in place and receive regular deliveries of PPE so that we can ensure that there are appropriate levels of supplies available for our staff.’

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell said there was ‘total commitment to getting PPE to where it is needed’.

He added: ‘Nationally a whole range of solutions have been put in place including using army logistics and transport and massive effort put into getting additional supplies. Locally the HSCP has been working with government to make sure that the correct PPE is in hospitals and GP surgeries and increasing the roll out to care homes.’