CARE workers in Scotland are set to get full personal protective equipment after a crisis meeting between the Health Secretary and trade unions.

Yesterday more than 1200 care workers signed an open letter to Nicola Sturgeon warning about a “fundamental breakdown of trust between Scotland’s care workforce, their employers and the Scottish Government”.

They hit out at “confusing, and at times contradictory” advice from the chief nursing officer for Scotland, Professor Fiona McQueen.

Last week she released additional guidance which said care workers and community nurses did not need to wear masks covering their mouths when dealing with patients who didn’t show signs of Covid-19.

Following yesterday’s meeting, that advice will be withdrawn.

The unions were assured that appropriate PPE would be provided, and Jeane Freeman personally apologised to the workers.

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The GMB Union took to Twitter to welcome the change in government policy.

“An important update for our members in care, as social carers WILL now get the full and proper PPE, including masks.

“Scottish Government Ministers assure us there are sufficient stocks, and we will be vigorously monitoring to ensure that they reach our members on the frontline ASAP.

“A point of frustration is that the commitments given to us today could have been given weeks ago.

“It shouldn’t take a point of crisis for unions and Government to work together if willingness is there from the outset.”

During the Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said she was “incredibly grateful” to Scotland’s care workers and added: “If issues and concerns are raised with us, we will seek to address these issues fully and quickly.”

Nicola Sturgeon said making sure those on the frontline received the equipment they need was something she cared deeply about as both a human being and as someone whose sister works for the NHS.

“I may be the First Minister, but I’ve got friends and family who work in these kind of jobs on the frontline of health and care. So, I know from a personal experience how vital this is,” she said.

“I’m not standing here just talking as First Minister, I’m standing here talking as a sister of somebody who works on the frontline of the NHS, as a human being, as a citizen.

“I care deeply and passionately about making sure that those who are doing so much for us on the frontline get the support and protection they need.

“That is why we will tirelessly, issue by issue, concern by concern, work to understand these concerns and listen to them, but most importantly of all, address these concerns.”

Meanwhile, Sturgeon warned it would be a “monumental mistake” to ease the coronavirus lockdown measures too early.

She said: “Obviously we will seek to get back to normal as quickly as possible, but it would be a really monumental mistake for us to lift these measures prematurely because all the hard work people are doing right now would be jeopardised if this virus just got out of control again.

“We will continue to be open with people as our understanding and our decision-making around these things continues to develop, but I will repeat the message today; we are in this for some time yet to come, people have to be prepared to stick with this in order for it to have the impact we want it to have.”

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