Scottish Government say NHS Forth Valley PPE is out of date but safe

Reports of out of date personal protective equipment have been causing concern throughout the country but both the UK and Scottish Governments say face masks and other items are still safe.

By James Trimble
Monday, 13th April 2020, 1:14 pm
Updated Monday, 13th April 2020, 2:27 pm

A couple of weeks ago the Scottish Government, which supplies the PPE to health boards like NHS Forth Valley, stated it had brought an additional 1.5 million protective respirators into use from NHS Scotland’s central stockpile.

The tightly-fitting facemasks, which reportedly provide a high level of protection for staff working with coronavirus patients, were not previously used because they had recently passed their expiry date.

However, the government claimed scientific evidence from stringent independent tests showed the respirators continue to be safe to use.

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PPE supplied to NHS Forth Valley staff is out of date but still safe according to the Scottish Government

There have been instances of new labels being placed over the best before dates of the equipment.

According to the government and NHS Forth Valley that is not a means to hide the existing best before date, but to show the masks have been tested and are still safe.

Reports down south – specifically in Harlow in the east of England – have front line medical staff saying their lives are being put at risk because they are being forced to wear out of date surgical masks, claiming out dated masks offer less protection against infection.

However, Health Protection Scotland is satisfied the stocks are safe for use by NHS staff.

At the time, Dr Catherine Calderwood, who was still serving as Scotland’s chief medical officer before her resignation, said: “The safety of our health and social care staff is our upmost priority and it’s essential they have the right equipment to keep them safe as they go about their work.

“While there is currently an adequate supply of respirators, we know there is a significant pressure on global supplies of personal protective equipment due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

“We therefore decided to test this recently expired stock to determine whether it still provides an adequate level of safety and protection. Those tests have shown the equipment continues to meet those standards and therefore we will bring these masks into use to ensure we continue to have adequate stocks as the outbreak develops.”

Dr Miles Mack, chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland, added: “Effective personal protective equipment is essential and we understand the difficulties around sourcing that have been encountered.

“On the basis of Health Protection Scotland agreement, we have no issue with this stock of masks being distributed for use in the NHS at this time.”