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Coronavirus: Claims English NHS given safety equipment priority are ‘rubbish’

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Claims that manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been prioritising workers in England have been dismissed by the Scottish government’s clinical director.

Prof Jason Leitch said suggestions that PPE supplies were being given to NHS and social care staff in England ahead of those in Scotland were “rubbish”.

It follows comments from the body representing private homes in Scotland.

Scottish Care had said suppliers of PPE were not delivering to Scotland.

Their chief executive, Donald Macaskill told Radio Scotland on Monday that the four largest manufacturers in the UK had said they would prioritise supplies to England.

He said: “We are facing a… problem and that is that the care home sector and the care at home sector had traditionally ordered PPE from various sources, but the four largest companies in the UK last week said they were not sending to Scotland and their priority was going to be England – English NHS and then English social care providers.

“So, within two or three days, we’ve had a massive dry up of procurement into Scotland and that’s had a really serious impact on our care homes and care organisations.”

However, Mr Macaskill added that “things… improved over the weekend”, and that he was “confident” that there was PPE available but it just had to be distributed.

‘We think it’s rubbish’

Speaking on the Good Morning Scotland programme on Tuesday, the Scottish government’s national clinical director said there was a coordinated effort across the UK to distribute PPE.

He said: “We have looked into it and we think it’s rubbish.

“So the companies, and our colleagues at NHS England yesterday when we spoke to them, said it wasn’t true.

“There’s another element of this though, that the English route for PPE is one of three routes that Scotland has access to PPE from.

“So we are in a four-country fight against this virus. Honestly, people might not believe me, but that four-countries’ fight is pretty aligned.”

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Prof Jason Leitch said suggestions that PPE supplies were being given to NHS and social care staff in England ahead of those in Scotland were “rubbish”.

Prof Leitch said that Scotland had three sources of PPE: UK-wide procurement, individual orders from overseas and PPE made in Scotland.

However, he acknowledged there have been some issues in getting supplies distributed.

He said: “What we struggled a little bit with distribution over the last few weeks is distribution to the lesser well-known care home sector who haven’t needed PPE in the past until they’ve had this virus.

“Now that is being sorted very, very quickly. I’m much more confident than I was even a week ago, that that is now working.

“We’re speaking to Donald later in the week again.”

The UK government added that it was working closely with devolved administrations.

A statement released by the Department of Health and Social Care said: “PPE supplies are being coordinated at a UK-wide level and allocation made based on clinical need across the whole country, which ensures a planned and coordinated response to this global pandemic.”

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