NHS SHETLAND has confirmed that measures are in place to ensure a supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) is available to staff.
Chief executive Michael Dickson also said that the use of PPE within its board when dealing with Covid-19 patients is “not a matter for personal direction”.
He said that leaving the equipment to personal discretion could “lead to staff feeling they aren’t required to maintain standards or wearing PPE without a clear rationale which, we are aware, creates a confusing message for patients”.
Protective equipment, such as masks, has been in high demand across the world for frontline staff during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Royal College of Nursing said on Wednesday (1 April) said that in the UK “nurses are struggling to obtain adequate supplies of PPE and hand sanitiser”.
There is recommended national guidance on the use of PPE for health and social workers, and it was updated on Thursday (2 April).
Dickson said that there are no issues over supply at NHS Shetland, although he asked any staff with concerns to come forward.
“We have worked hard to ensure staff have access to the right PPE to allow them to care for patients safely whatever the environment,” he said.
“Due to the national demands on PPE we have put in place systems and safeguards to ensure a supply is available. If any staff member is concerned that we haven’t got this right for them we would urge them to raise this.
“We are here to support our staff in providing the best care possible to patients.”
Dickson added that the health board supports staff to wear “appropriate personal protective equipment when required”.
He added that to “ensure consistency within our board” PPE is not a matter for personal direction.
“With the demands placed on PPE it’s essential it is used appropriately and proportionally to ensure it is available for all staff as and when they need it,” the chief executive said.
“Should staff have concerns we are happy to support them with a risk assessment to ascertain the right PPE to be used relevant to their personal circumstances and this is something we have done for staff.”
Dickson also confirmed that as of Friday morning (3 April) one patient who tested positive for coronavirus was being cared for in the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick.
On Thursday afternoon, meanwhile, it was announced that in Scotland 126 people who had tested positive for Covid-19 had died.
When asked about the possibility that some may have died from the virus who were never tested, Dickson said:
“Nationally – globally – this must be the case and the Government has issued guidance of how to manage a case should we suspect Covid-19 has been a factor in their death.
“It is impossible to test everyone. In Shetland we have tested suspected cases in care homes because of the communal nature of these facilities and the vulnerable people who are resident.”
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