The supply of personal protective equipment in Scotland is “much better” than before the pandemic and stocks are significantly higher, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister faced questions on a report which found Scotland’s central stockpile of PPE ran “very low” in April 2020.
The Audit Scotland report also found the surge in PPE prices early in the pandemic cost the NHS £37.4m more than normal.
It repeated an earlier finding that the Scottish Government did not fully implement recommendations from pandemic preparedness exercises.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday.
He said: “You may not have run out of PPE on your spreadsheet, but it ran out in hospitals and our care settings.
“Ask the healthcare workers and they will tell you the truth.
“Today’s Audit Scotland report confirms that central stocks of PPE were so low at points they could have run out in eight hours.
“A lack of PPE had consequences, and devastating ones.
“It cost lives, in Scotland a sixth of all cases admitted to hospital in the first wave were healthcare workers or members of their household.
“In total, 21 healthcare staff and 28 social care workers have tragically lost their lives to Covid-19 in Scotland.”
Sturgeon said she welcomes scrutiny into the government’s handling of the pandemic but she insisted warnings were not ignored.
She thanked those who “worked so hard to ensure that at no point Scotland ran out of PPE”, saying the auditor general had noted the Scottish Government and NHS had worked well together in challenging circumstances.
The First Minister said: “We worked hard – again reflected in this report – to make sure, often on same-day turnaround, that health boards across the country had supplies of PPE.
“Of course there’s a lot of learning already been done, and we now have domestic supply chains for PPE that are much better than before the pandemic.
“Before the pandemic, around 100% of all of our PPE was imported, now the majority of it is actually manufactured here in Scotland.
“We now have significantly higher stocks of PPE, hopefully we won’t need the same volumes in future.
“But every step of the way we have worked hard, which is reflected in the Audit Scotland report, reflected by the auditor general, to make sure that our staff had PPE and we will continue to do that each and every day.”