A desperate Highland nurse has told how healthcare workers are living in fear of catching Covid-19 amid a lack of essential protection.
The concerned NHS Highland worker says limited personal protection equipment (PPE) is putting their health and the welfare of patients at risk.
The staff nurse said stocks of hand sanitiser, masks and visors were in low supply and were failing to meet the growing need of NHS staff.
The healthcare worker – who did not wish to be named – spoke to the Press and Journal about the challenges facing unequipped medical staff on the front line as they continue to care for patients.
She said: “We don’t know who has got the virus and who hasn’t because Scotland is not testing everybody.
“Certainly in the area I work, there is a distinct lack of the necessary protective equipment. We don’t have enough masks or visors and we really should be wearing disposable scrubs but we are having to wear just our normal uniforms.”
The woman said staff were also ill-equipped to deal with patients in need of CPR.
She added: “If we have to resuscitate a patient who’s potentially got this virus, we need to wear a full face mask.
“If someone has the virus, the very act of ventilating them actually spreads the germs throughout the air more. Just wearing one of those surgical masks is not enough. Certainly the area I work in, nobody has been fitted for one of these masks.”
“The mentality among nurses is we want to work but we want to be safe. We are all thinking, we are all going to get it – it’s just a matter of do we survive it or not.”
As the number of positive cases continue rise in Scotland, the nurse urged NHS Highland to implement the necessary measures to ensure staff remain equipped to deal with all patient’s needs.
She said: “They have known this crisis has been coming since early January but why have they not ordered enough protective equipment to protect the staff. If we are not protected, the patients aren’t protected. It’s just a disaster.
“We understand that things are changing on an hourly basis and that’s fine, but we need to be getting the absolute basics right and if we are not doing that, then I don’t really see how there is much hope.”
An NHS spokeswoman said: “We are not aware of incidents where staff have had to engage in clinical care without the appropriate PPE. As with all Health Boards in Scotland we are taking a lot of questions from staff seeking assurances about the continuing supply of PPE and we are providing reassurance with daily updates on the work being progressed on the systems we have in place around stock levels, ordering and supply of PPE across all health and social care settings.
“We are also working with colleagues nationally and locally to ensure we have the correct equipment in the correct place for the correct clinical circumstances. Our Lead Nurses will be supporting clinical areas to ensure that all staff feel supported in the use of PPE.
“If staff have any concerns about PPE we would ask them to escalate this via their line manager.”