Care homes last in queue for PPE during Covid, Inquiry told

Care homes were the last in the queue for PPE during the pandemic, the Scottish Covid-19 Inquiry has been told.

Norman Provan, associate director (employment relations) at Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland said there was a “hierarchy” around PPE with staff working in care homes, primary care and GPs being given lower levels of protection.

Provan said: “There appeared to be a hierarchy the further you got away from the very acute environments, in terms of both the availability and the type of PPE that was available.

“Care homes and small providers had their own method of purchasing PPE and of course every health system in the world was trying to get great amounts of PPE at quite short notice at the beginning of the pandemic, so for them it was particularly difficult to secure and increase their supply chain.”

Colin Poolman, director of RCN Scotland, said there was “huge difficulty in both procurement and the availability of PPE within the care home sector”.

He added: “It was an issue within the NHS as well, of course, but I would say it was more acute in the areas of independent and social care.”

Poolman praised the Scottish government for setting up community hubs “which meant those environments like care homes which had difficulties securing their own PPE could phone and they would be supplied PPE from NHS stock”.

He also recommended closer collaboration between health boards and care homes regarding education and infection control assistance.

“Many of the nursing homes don’t have the infrastructure that the NHS has in terms of diagnostics, cleaning, infection control provision, so I think there could be better collaboration between the health boards and local authorities in relation to the care homes and nursing homes in the area to import some of that expertise from the NHS into those environments,” he said.

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