Coronavirus: Family carers to be given access to PPE kits

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Health workers in PPEImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The coronavirus pandemic has made it harder to find adequate supplies of protective equipment

People who care for members of their own family will be able to obtain protective equipment through new local hubs, ministers have announced.

The hubs, which begin operating on Monday, will supply unpaid and family carers as well as personal assistants.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said everyone who provides social care will now have access to the "appropriate PPE" through the new system.

The coronavirus pandemic has put huge pressure on the global supply of PPE.

Eleven million face masks were among a shipment of protective equipment which arrived in Scotland from China on Friday.

The Scottish government said the hubs would distribute equipment to the whole of the social care sector when carers' normal supply routes had failed.

They will also open up supply to unpaid and family carers.

Ms Freeman said the Scottish government valued the importance of all those providing social care.

"As we respond to the challenges from global scarcity of PPE, we have worked with partners to agree an improved model that will ensure all social care providers have access to supplies from national NHS stock," she said.

"This has only been possible because of a shared aim to ensure the right PPE gets to the right people at the right time and to keep everyone safe.

"In the coming weeks, we will collectively monitor how this model is operating, identifying challenges quickly and taking action as we deal with the evolving nature of the pandemic."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The new arrangements open up the supply of PPE to unpaid and family carers

There are estimated to be almost 700,000 unpaid carers in Scotland, including 29,000 who are under the age of 18, according to the Scottish government.

They typically provide care and support to family members, friends and neighbours and do not necessarily live with the people they are caring for.

Local government group Cosla has welcomed the announcement.

The group's health and social care spokesman, Stuart Currie, said: "Local government has worked with partners across the sector to develop this model to ensure those who are supporting vulnerable people within their communities and all parts of the workforce have access to the PPE they need."