Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton sought assurances today that personal assistants providing care to the vulnerable would be able to access support via the PPE helpline and get access to sufficient PPE provisions.
The Health Secretary has made a personal apology to the Scottish Personal Assistant Employers Network for failing to resolve this issue until now and committed to resolving the problem by the end of the day.
Alex Cole-Hamilton commented:
"This announcement will bring much relief to personal assistants who have been providing care across the country throughout this crisis without the protective equipment they need and deserve.
"I am grateful that the Health Secretary has agreed to resolve this issue within the day, but I'm dismayed that these frontline staff have been forced to work without this support because of administrative or process errors.
"We are all utterly dependant on the resilience and commitment of care staff to safeguard the most vulnerable in our society against this horrible disease. We owe them the safest conditions and equipment we can provide."
The text of the exchange can be found below:
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:
"Colin Millar, the Chief Executive of Scottish Personal Assistant Employers Network (SPEAN), voiced anger at the Scottish Government's failure to end the continued exposure of personal assistants to risk and infection transmission. He says that the telephone support line refuses calls from these social care workers because they are not care inspectorate registered. Those who deliver care in the home as personal assistants are in as much danger as care home staff. Will she [the Health Secretary] intervene to ensure they are no longer stonewalled by the PPE helpline?
Jeane Freeman MSP replied:
"Yes I will but before I do I need to say here in this Chamber, and I will be writing to SPAEN themselves, I need to apologise for the fact that we have not resolved this up until now. This is a really important group of people. The individuals that they are caring for are very important individuals and there is no reason at this point why they cannot access PPE. So my apology goes alongside an assurance that before I leave to go home tonight we will have resolved this. There is no reason why it cannot be resolved and Mr Cole-Hamilton and those personal assistants have my personal assurance that we will resolve this by the end of today."