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NHS gets expired protective respirators during fight against coronavirus; 'Equipment continues to meet standards'

By Scott Maclennan

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Dr Catherine Calderwood.
Dr Catherine Calderwood.

An additional 1.5 million protective respirators have been brought back into use from NHS Scotland’s central stockpile despite recently passing their expiry date.

Now staff have been urged to check the integrity foam seals, straps, valves and nose clips of the tightly-fitting face masks that should provide a high level of protection against coronavirus.

According to the Scottish Government independent scientific evidence has shown the respirators continue to be safe to use.

Both the Health and Safety Executive and Health Protection Scotland are satisfied the stocks are safe for use by NHS staff.

Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said: “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.”

Meanwhile frontline police officers will also be issued with personal protective equipment.

Fitting and training will soon be rolled out across all local police divisions as some 600 officers already received masks, gloves, boot covers, coveralls and goggles by the end of last week.

Protective gear has already been issued to operational support units, border policing, custody and in some officers in rural areas.

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: "We have had several teams working continuously on procuring and distributing vital supplies to staff and these are being issued across priority areas, with significant orders for more items, including masks, goggles and gloves, scheduled for delivery over the coming days and weeks.

"The procurement of available PPE is a key piece of work being undertaken in challenging circumstances due to exceptional levels of demand and we are streamlining and simplifying the process where possible.

"We are working with the Scottish government and partners, and at a UK level, to ensure required PPE is delivered as quickly as possible."

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