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Staff at Scots care home where patient died from Covid-19 fear catching virus over lack of equipment

Daily Record logoDaily Record 27/03/2020 Vivienne Aitken

Staff at a Scots care home where a patient has died from Covid-19 fear catching the virus because of a lack of personal

protection equipment (PPE).

Several other residents at Cumbrae Lodge Care Home in Irvine, Ayrshire, are exhibiting symptoms and workers are terrified they will pick up coronavirus and become ill themselves or pass it on to their unsuspecting families.

They are not alone. We have already told this week how nurses, doctors and radiographers at the Beatson cancer centre in Glasgow had raised concerns about a lack of PPE following the news that specialist nurse Pauline McIlroy, 56, had collapsed at work with the illness.

And yesterday, many NHS and care workers contacted the Record with similar concerns about their own safety.

a car parked in a parking lot: Cumbrae Lodge Care Home in Irvine, Ayrshire © Daily Record Cumbrae Lodge Care Home in Irvine, Ayrshire

National Services Scotland is now dealing with the procurement of all PPE, rather than individual health boards.

Last night, the GMB union reacted with fury at the apparent lack of protection for their workers.

One official has written to Four Seasons Care Homes, owners of Cumbrae Lodge, “with great concern and urgency”.

In the letter, the GMB official says: “I’m utterly shocked and hugely disappointed that a care provider of Four Seasons’ size and experience would allow a care home to run in a ‘business as usual manner’ at this most dangerous time.

“These workers are literally being sent into battle with no protection.”

The letter continued: “They are putting themselves and their family members at risk by coming to work. No employee should ever knowingly be put at risk in the workplace and no employee should ever arrive at work healthy and well, ultimately to leave unhealthy and ill due to unavailability of sufficient PPE.

“The company’s cavalier approach to the availability of face masks is utterly unacceptable and every effort must be made immediately to ensure that no other employee is put at risk whilst working for your company.”

Kirsty Nimmo, the GMB’s lead officer for private care in Scotland, added: “It’s an utter disgrace and gross negligence.”

A spokeswoman from Four Seasons Healthcare Group said it was “putting all our resources and energy into supporting and protecting everyone in our homes”.

She added: “We share our colleagues’ frustration at the lack of available equipment and we have been working hard to secure supplies of PPE for all of our homes.

“Our team has been sending daily updates to the homes on our efforts to secure masks and other equipment while ensuring all colleagues are implementing our strict procedures for health and safety.

“The vast majority of our homes have received PPE and we are expecting a delivery to Cumbrae Lodge imminently. We appreciate the dedication of our colleagues across our homes and we thank them for their commitment and hard work.”

Around the country, there are similar concerns.

A nurse at the QEUH contacted us to say she and her colleagues were concerned about “our personal safety looking after patients with and suspected of having Covid-19”.

She added: “We are running out of hand sanitiser and are sharing one visor between units to carry out high risk procedures on patients.”

a blue and white sign: Cumbrae Lodge Care Home in Irvine where staff say they do not have the necessary PPE © Daily Record Cumbrae Lodge Care Home in Irvine where staff say they do not have the necessary PPE

A concerned partner wrote in to say their other half works at a care home in Clarkston, near Glasgow, where a resident has been isolated with symptoms.

They wrote: “The staff have been told they have five masks in the home and they are not allowed to use them.”

At Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, masks were delivered which were four years out of date.

A sticker had been placed over the original use by date of July 2016 to give a new date of July 202 1. Staff were told they’d been “revalidated”.

Yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon told how the Scottish Government had brought an extra 1.5million face masks into use from the NHS Scotland stockpile.

They had passed 2019 expiry dates but have gone through “extensive testing” which has shown them fit for use, the First Minister said.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the Government was “paying very close and daily attention to the overall stock of PPE for our health and social care staff and have now taken over the ordering, supply and distribution of PPE to social care and care at home staff”.


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