Personal protective equipment (PPE) for social care workers is to be prioritised for the Western Isles, according to a statement today (Wednesday 25 March) by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s head of community care.

Jack Libby told councillors yesterday and has confirmed publicly today that the three island authorities (Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland councils) are being viewed by the Scottish Government as a special case for the distribution of PPE to social careworkers.

He said: "Following discussions with the Scottish Government earlier today, the Scottish Government have decided to view the three island authorities as having ‘unique environment status’, where we will now be provided with a quantity of PPE.

“The quantity will be dependent on the number of staff employed in the social care sector, whether local authority or our third sector partners. The PPE supplied will be face masks, gloves and aprons.

"We have identified three distribution locations throughout the Western Isles, – in Stornoway covering Lewis and Harris, Trianaid Tigh Ceilidh covering North and South Uist and St Brendans to cover Barra.

"I am expecting to receive the PPE before the end of this week. In the interim, we have a small supply ourselves and our colleagues in health will provide us with PPE should we require (it) between now and receipt of the delivery from the national distribution centre.

"The usage of PPE has to be very carefully managed. It is only to be used where there is suspected or proven COVID–19, otherwise the demand placed on supplies could potentially out-strip the supply.

“The situation is developing daily and at times throughout the day. I am thankful for the patience shown by staff. I understand their anxieties and their need for reassurance that should they have a need for PPE, it will be available to them."