No nursing staff are refusing to work with Covid-19 patients across Scotland as a result of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), according to the Scottish health secretary.
Jeane Freeman’s comments follow criticism of the Scottish and UK governments for the amount of PPE available for frontline workers.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has piled more pressure on ministers after it urged members to refuse to treat patients as a “last resort” if adequate protection was not provided.
Her statement came after she announced another 24 people with coronavirus have died in Scotland, taking the total number of confirmed deaths to 566.
She said: “We do not have nursing staff at this point, refusing to treat coronavirus patients and as I said, every effort is going into making sure that they are never placed in a situation where they do not have the PPE they need.
“As a former nurse myself, I know that that would be the last decision that you would ever want to take.
“So our job is to make sure that they’re never in that situation, and that we work really hard every single day to ensure that we secure the supply of PP that our nursing staff, our medics and our care-at-home and social care staff need to do the job that is so important and that they’re doing right now.”
She added: “Our focus is to make sure that no one in our health or social care professions are ever put in a place where that is the kind of decision that they consider taking.
“It matters very much to me that our health and social care workforce have all the items that they need.”
The Scottish Government’s figures revealed that 31,114 tests have now been carried out across Scotland, which is an additional 1,211 tests in the past 24 hours.
A total of 5,912 people have tested positive for the virus.
Last week, medics in Scotland signed a letter to the Scottish Government to express concerns over PPE.
It claimed frontline staff are risking their lives dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak because they do not have suitable aprons, masks and eyewear.
The RCN, in guidelines seen by the PA news agency on Sunday, told nurses: “Ultimately, if you have exhausted all other measures to reduce the risk and you have not been given appropriate PPE in line with the UK Infection Prevention and Control guidance, you are entitled to refuse to work.”