Nicola Sturgeon has admitted there is “a long way to go” before the standard of home testing for offshore workers meets expectations.
During first minister’s questions, the SNP leader was quizzed on whether enough is being done to keep oil and gas workers, their families and the NHS safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
Trade body Oil and Gas UK said last month more than 12,000 staff were working offshore during the early part of lockdown and concerns have been raised over the availability of suitable tests for those in the industry.
North East Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr told the first minister he had been contacted by constituents who work offshore and feel unprotected by the standard currently available.
He said: “A significant number of offshore workers and companies have contacted me suggesting that testing offshore workers isn’t happening sufficiently.
“There is testing at Aberdeen Airport but I am told that that involves offshore workers providing their own swab and they tell me this doesn’t feel sufficiently robust.
“What progress has been made in protecting with testing North Sea oil workers, their families and, by extension, the NHS when they deploy offshore and when they come home?”
The oil and gas sector has faced a series of storms all at once through the coronavirus outbreak: market pressures, a fall in demand, and operational activity being slashed by a number of large operators.
Oil and Gas UK warned this week that most of the UK’s offshore supply is currently operating in survival mode.
There is also increasing availability, although it’s still got a long way to go, of test kits that can be posted to the home.”
Ms Sturgeon promised to raise the issue of how the needs of offshore workers can be better met as part of the current testing strategy.
She said: “When workers in that category are onshore we can use the online portal to book a test at one of the drive through centres or mobile units, whatever’s appropriate.
“There is also increasing availability, although it’s still got a long way to go, of test kits that can be posted to the home.
“There is a different and a greater challenge when workers are offshore and I’ll relay the point about how we can better access when workers are offshore and the health secretary will come back to the member in due course.”