UNISON welcomes Scottish Government’s Personal Protection Equipment Taskforce

UNISON has today (Friday) secured agreement from the Scottish government to create a PPE taskforce which aims to address the significant problems faced by health and care staff across the country.

UNISON met with Jeane Freeman, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health this morning to discuss ongoing concerns about the availability, distribution and the quality of PPE. UNISON branches across Scotland have been inundated with calls from health and care workers who are concerned about PPE in their local hospitals and other health and care services.

Willie Duffy, UNISON Scotland head of health said: “UNISON has been at the forefront of raising the problems with access to and distribution of PPE. The least staff should expect is to be safe at work and we are pleased the Cabinet Secretary has agreed to meet regularly with UNISON so we can continue to improve the provision of safety equipment for staff across the NHS. Our meetings with government, throughout Coronavirus pandemic have been robust and sometimes difficult, but they are held in good faith on both sides and we look forward to continuing with that.”

Thomas Waterson, chair of UNISON Scotland health committee said: “Our members have come to us in their droves to express their concerns about PPE availability, distribution and quality. The safety of health and care staff and the people they are caring for is paramount and we welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s agreement to address these concerns as a matter of urgency. The creation of a PPE taskforce will allow us to continue to voice our members concerns straight to the top of government.”

Notes for editors:
UNISON is the largest trade union in health and care services. Issues raised with Cabinet Secretary this morning include:

– The re-using of single use PPE: some staff report they are being asked to wipe down and reuse single use gowns.

– Cleaning safety visors: staff do not have confidence in cleaning materials they are being ask to use to clean visors, with staff reporting dirt and make-up still visible after cleaning.

– Not enough masks: staff are advised to regularly change facemasks however staff report not having enough to last a full shift.

– Poor design of gowns: Staff report that they being asked to use poor quality aprons that are not fit for purpose and risk of contamination when doffing and donning them. They also report that aprons which are very thin, tend to rip very easily, expose the back of the uniform, they are too wide at the neck, and they are uncomfortable to wear for a full shift.

– Slow distribution of PPE: Some managers report not having enough PPE and it being very stressful to work with such low stocks of PPE.

UNISON Scotland contact details:
Willie Duffy: 07904 342129
Danny Phillips / Trisha Hamilton: 07944 664110 / 07903 853054