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NHS staff urged to bring Covid-19 issues to Scottish Government and not media

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said people on the front-line should not feel they have to go to the press.

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A number of medics have spoken to politicians and the media to raise concerns about the rollout of personal protective equipment (Peter Byrne/PA)

A number of medics have spoken to politicians and the media to raise concerns about the rollout of personal protective equipment (Peter Byrne/PA)

A number of medics have spoken to politicians and the media to raise concerns about the rollout of personal protective equipment (Peter Byrne/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has asked NHS staff to “come to Government” with issues and complaints rather than going to the media.

Speaking at a briefing about coronavirus on Friday, Ms Sturgeon said staff should not be banned from speaking to the press but asked whistle-blowers to see if ministers can resolve their issues.

It comes after a number of medics have spoken to politicians and the media to raise concerns about the rollout of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks and aprons to protect against Covid-19.

We've got very strong whistle-blowing rules and laws and its important that they're respected, so I would not in any way condone people being told they are not able to do thatFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon

When asked if she had concerns about claims NHS staff are being told not to talk to the media, the First Minister said: “I absolutely believe that medics or anybody working in our health service should be free to talk to the media if they believe that’s important.

“We’ve got very strong whistle-blowing rules and laws and its important that they’re respected so I would not in any way condone people being told they are not able to do that.”

But she added: “I would also say that I don’t want people on the front-line of the health service feeling that they have to talk to the media.

“If there are issues, they should come to government and we will strive to resolve these issues as much as possible.”

Reports have surfaced about a lack of adequate PPE, including claims from Scottish Labour that some equipment was out of date when it was delivered.

On Friday, BMA Scotland chairman Dr Lewis Morrison wrote in a blog post that some doctors are buying or considering buying their own scrubs due to a shortage.

He added: “As the way we deliver care changes in the face of rising Covid-19 cases sufficient appropriate clothing for the clinical environment is essential to the job many of us will be doing so we have added this issue to the many we are dealing, and high up our priorities for you as clinicians.”

On the delivery of PPE, he said: “Despite the messaging from Scottish Government that they understand that we need the right PPE, sufficient PPE and ongoing supplies, we are hearing from doctors that in places this hasn’t happened yet and certainly hasn’t been happening quickly enough.”

The Scottish Government operates a confidential phone line for staff to voice their concerns about the health service, which was set up in 2013.

Official data shows the phone line has been contacted 464 times since its creation.

PA