UNISON secures PPE win for Scotland’s care workers

Joint unions warned that previous advice from Scotland’s chief nursing officer increased risks for home and social carers

Scottish government building signage reading "The Scottish Government"

Scotland’s care workers should get face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus, says new advice from the Scottish government after UNISON and other unions stepped in.

UNISON Scotland, along with other unions, got agreement from the Scottish government that the UK-wide guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) applies for the country’s care workers.

The unions stepped in after an earlier letter from the chief nursing officer said that masks were unnecessary, which would have meant home and social carers receiving less protection than colleagues in other parts of the UK, potentially putting them and those they were caring for at increased risk.

After days of negotiation, the Scottish government and chief nursing officer now advise that care workers can wear a fluid resistant face mask along with any other appropriate PPE that they feel is necessary in carrying out their work.

The new Scottish government advice says it trusts the professional judgement of home and social carers in assessing the correct level of PPE they need for the tasks they are undertaking.

UNISON Scotland head of local Johanna Baxter says the union is “pleased that the Sottish government has responded positively to the concerns UNISON raised”.

She added that the union “will always stand up for our members and we will always fight to protect them.

“It is not acceptable that home and social care workers were put through this further anxiety. Their jobs are stressful enough.”

UNISON Scotland local government chair Mark Ferguson added that the union is aware of issues around the supply of PPE and continues to raise that with the Scottish government.

Read the full UNISON Scotland press release