Saturday, 18 April 2020

Masks On vs Masks Off

Here's an odd story from The Herald which reports that the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) are unhappy with the quality of the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) provided during the Coronavirus pandemic.

What seems odd to me is that the SPF claim that their expert advisers are advising that their PPE supply is 'rubbish' - yet they fail to provide any evidence to back up this claim.

I understand that PPE is now being organised centrally by the Scottish Government which is what you would expect in an emergency situation, otherwise different groups of essential workers would have to compete and scrabble over scarce resources.

But the ordering and distribution system does seem to have real problems because I know that Glasgow's care workers had a real fight on their hands about wearing face masks - and even now the Government and Council policy is that individual workers should be left to decide whether to wear them or not.

Coronavirus in Scotland: Police body raises concerns over face masks

By Alistair Grant - The Herald

Coronavirus in Scotland: Police raise concerns over face masks

POLICE representatives have raised concerns newly announced protective equipment for officers will not provide any "meaningful protection" against coronavirus.

Police Scotland revealed on Thursday staff will be given surgical face masks to wear when working where it is not possible to adhere to social distancing measures.

But the Scottish Police Federation claimed the scientific case for the personal protective equipment (PPE), known as type two masks, had not been made.

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to listen and respond to concerns being raised over equipment.

David Hamilton, chairman of the SPF, said: "The demand for PPE amongst our members is understandably high and whilst we note the service is now able to issue type two surgical masks, these will not provide any meaningful protection to officers.

"The advice of our expert panel means that the Scottish Police Federation cannot endorse their use as PPE.

"Our panel is unanimous in its views that the primary aim of the surgical mask is to prevent the wearer from infecting anyone else; and that they offer little effective barrier to the wearer from contracting the virus.

"In short the scientific case that these masks can be used as PPE against Covid-19 has yet to be made."

Police Scotland has secured "initial stocks" of type two fluid resistant surgical masks and is distributing them in response to advice from Health Protection Scotland, Public Health England and the UK Government.

Officers and staff will be able to use the PPE in low risk situations where they are unable to maintain a two-metre distance from their colleagues or members of the public.

A total of 4,000 of the police workforce have been supplied with the FFP3 mask, which offers an enhanced level of protection through a face-fitted respirator.

Ms Sturgeon was asked about the concerns raised by the SPF during the Scottish Government's daily coronavirus briefing.

She said Police Scotland was using the masks on the basis of scientific evidence from Health Protection Scotland and others.

She said: "We work closely with, not just health and care – although primarily with health and care – but with other parts of the public sector to make sure we have the right supplies, but also that the quality of what is being used is sufficient.

"We will continue to listen to and try to respond to any concerns that are being raised by staff groups, and in this case obviously by the Scottish Police Federation."

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: "We are committed to doing everything we can to protect the public and limit the spread of the virus, and to protect our own people as they carry out their duties.

"We recognise that every day our officers and staff are putting themselves in harm's way and we want them to have the right protection to do their job.

"In line with scientific advice, these surgical masks will be available for use as a precaution for officers and staff dealing with incidents where social distancing measures are not possible."