HUMZA Yousaf has been accused of presiding over a “shocking waste” of life-saving resources after more than half a million face masks and almost 90,000 litres of hand sanitiser had to be taken out of Scotland’s PPE stockpile.
The Health Secretary revealed in an parliamentary answer that 509,890 facemasks and 87,912 litres of hand sanitiser were withdrawn from the nation’s supply because their expiry date had passed.
Scottish Labour MSP Katy Clark, who had put down the written question, said the equipment should have been used to protect frontline workers and the public from Covid and called for Mr Yousaf to explain why the items were not used for their intended purpose within the deadline.
“This is an utterly shocking waste of vital personal protective equipment that should have been used to help keep safe frontline key workers, and the public against Covid,” she said.
Scottish Labour MSP Katy Clarke
“The virus remains a threat to public health, and for ministers to have presided over such a wanton waste of precious resources, which are part of Scotland’s defence against Covid is a complete disgrace.
“The Health Secretary must provide parliament with an urgent explanation about how this gross mismanagement came about.”
In the early stages of the coronavirus crisis the First Minister came under pressure over how prepared Scotland was for the pandemic following PPE shortages among health care staff and other frontline workers.
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In April 2020 Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would investigate reports that “supplies of PPE to care homes in Scotland” were “being diverted to England”.
The following year she was challenged by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar over fears shortages of protective gear during the pandemic led to deaths of NHS and care staff.
Mr Sarwar quizzed the First Minister over supplies of PPE during the first wave of the Covid crisis after a report by watchdog Audit Scotland found the country’s central stockpile ran “very low” in April last year.
The Scottish Government has insisted Scotland “never ran out” of items such as face masks, visors and gowns. But Mr Sarwar stressed that was not the experience of health and social care workers, and claimed the lack of PPE led to lives being lost.
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Ms Sturgeon responded at the time: “No, I don’t think that is the case, although there is much scrutiny to come around the government’s handling of this.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said on Wednesday night: “The protection of our frontline health and social care staff has been and remains our overriding priority during the pandemic.
“We acted as fast as possible at the beginning of the pandemic to secure appropriate protective equipment – often in competition with others, and in the face of reducing supplies – to enable our dedicated staff to offer unprecedented care in the face of increasing pressures.
“As time has gone on, better quality products have become available, leading to some PPE being written off, replaced or unused by the expiry date, and we publish the cost of this is published in NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) accounts. We are also working to ensure that used masks and sanitising gel is able to be recycled.
“NHS National Services Scotland continues to work closely with health boards, industry and other partners to consider the environmental impact of PPE and oversee the implementation of positive changes to the provision of PPE in Scotland.”