Catherine Sweeney, who died after contracting coronavirus.
By Bill Heaney
A care worker in West Dunbartonshire, Catherine Sweeney from Dumbarton, has died after contracting coronavirus.
Whether protective clothing and equipment was available to Catherine – she was identified last night (Monday) by her trade union, the GMB – is not yet known.
Her family have asked for their privacy at this time and we respect that and have not yet had an opportunity to ask them about this.
However, in her statement at 3.30pm on Sunday, Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh, refers to access to PPE for council workers as “a problem”.
The Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party said: ““It is clear that access to protective clothing and equipment for health and social care staff is a problem across Scotland.
“Supplies are rationed because there is simply not enough and the strategy appears to be determined by that shortage of supply, rather than what health guidance dictates.
“This is simply not good enough and is putting lives at risk. The Scottish Government must act urgently to protect our brave frontline workers. It is our duty to do so.”
““In this time of crisis, we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to those heroic health and care workers who risk their lives daily to care for and treat those in need.
“This [care worker’s death] is very sad news. It will come as a great blow to the family and to my local community. My thoughts are with them and I share in their grief.”
A GMB survey about the council’s treatment of its workers and the availability of personal protection equipment to assist them in the emergency was published in The Democrat on Friday.
It did not reflect well on West Dunbartonshire Council.
Councillor Jonathan McColl, leader of the SNP administration on West Dunbartonshire Council, has made it clear he will not comment about council matters to The Democrat, including the coronavirus emergency, more fool him.
He is bound to come under fire for his council, despite what First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stated at the outset, not being properly prepared to deal with the virus.
Scottish Labour Health spokesperson Monica Lennon said: “Social care staff are the unsung heroes of the Coronavirus pandemic. The death of a member of the social care family will be met with great sadness.
“Scotland-wide, it is worrying that absence levels among the social care workforce are soaring, as are fears about lack of personal protective equipment.
“The GMB Scotland membership survey of home carers should have been a wake-up call to the First Minister when I raised it with her in Parliament.
“Home carers in my region have been asked to use PPE sparingly due to scare supplies. This is far from an isolated example and I have written to the First Minister today asking her to guarantee safe systems of work for all social care staff because lives are at stake.”
Labour’s Monica Lennon and Jackie Baillie, fighting for for home care workers.
Meanwhile, the report of the GMB survey in West Dunbartonshire said some care workers were “petrified” about going into their work:
The confident message given by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in her address to the nation at the outset as to how Scotland would be able to cope with the coronavirus appears to be either a gross exaggeration or a travesty of the truth.
Concern is mounting amongst many people in lockdown and social distancing and those valiant NHS and council workers struggling to cope with what is happening.
At least that is according to the picture that appears from a GMB trade union survey in West Dunbartonshire, where the SNP are in charge of the Council.
GMB representative David Scott has just published the results of a Q&A put to their members here, and they are illuminating.
They bear no resemblance to the “Aye Ready” message which First Minister Nicola Sturgeon broadcast to the nation.
GMB rep David Scott posted the results of our GMB survey:
Do you believe that you are being put at risk as a result of not being given a face mask?
Have you been given a risk assessment recently in relation to Covid19 and carrying out your role?
Do you feel safe and supported in doing your job by the Council right now with the Covid_19 pandemic?
Is anxiety about PPE making you reconsider going into work to do your job?
If these results are an accurate reflection of what is going on in Dumbarton then Cllr Jonathan McColl, leader of the SNP administration, should resign immediately.
More than 200 workers were canvassed for their answers to the survey which is still open.
Allan Kane said: “A very good return. Especially considering the circumstances.”
Craig Denver asked: “What will the GMBs next step be?
David Scott told him: “Probably to keep pressure on Scottish Government to deliver fit and proper PPE to carers, which they require to do their role safely.”