Union chiefs in Dundee have raised concerns over the health of their members in the social care sector during the coronavirus crisis.
And they have now called for an urgent testing regime to be put in place for workers to ensure their health is of top priority.
Helen Meldrum, Scotland organiser for the GMB, which represents the majority of Dundee’s social care workers, has said it’s vital that key workers in the city’s care sector are given as much protection as possible – because a lack of testing is having a significant impact on their mental health.
She said: “The latest statistics on the number of fatalities in Scotland’s care homes are sad and sobering, and we are deeply concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the workers we represent.
“Social care workers had to wait until five weeks after the first Covid-19 infection in Scotland to receive clear and unambiguous guidelines on PPE, and many still do not have the proper PPE to do their job safely.
“Furthermore, and more than two months after the first infection, there is still no robust testing programme for workers to help mitigate virus spread, sustain services and save lives. This is having a significant burden on the mental health and wellbeing of workers.”
UK Government health secretary Matt Hancock announced on Friday that testing had finally reached over 100,000 per day.
That’s expected to continue into next week, with Ms Meldrum hoping that GMB members benefit from the ramp up in testing.
She added: “It seems that government only starts to address these important issues of PPE and testing when they are faced with difficult questions and, while we welcome the intervention of the Health Secretary to change the policy on the testing of residents, there must now be an urgent testing regime put in place for social care workers.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “The UK government has established a new network of Covid-19 testing facilities.
“Testing will allow symptomatic key workers to know whether or not they have the virus.
“Health and social care workers will continue to be primarily routed through NHS testing at local NHS facilities.
“These workers continue to be prioritised to ensure critical staff can return to work as soon as it is safe to do so.
“The UK Government testing programme in Scotland is additional capacity to supplement NHS testing.”
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