Tayside care home staff are much more likely to catch coronavirus compared to other keyworkers, shock new figures show.
39% tested since April 6 were found to have the virus, significantly higher than the 20% average for all health and social care staff.
With the workforce in the sector being predominantly female and low-paid, it also raises fears a section of society is being disproportionately affected.
Helen Meldrum, local GMB Scotland trade union rep, said the statistics prove workers were not protected from the beginning.
She said: “Unfortunately politicians were absolutely tone deaf over shortages of PPE for far too long.
“These stats sadly show that by failing to act quickly enough, our members have been the forgotten front line yet again.
“Predominantly female workforces are bearing the brunt of a decade of cuts and lack of leadership, many for poverty pay.”
She added care workers’ families should be eligible for the Scottish Government’s life assurance scheme, open to all NHS workers who pass away.
She said: “I was stunned by the policy announcement that said families of care workers will not be entitled to the £60,000.
“Care workers, the forgotten front line are literally putting their lives on the line to look after our most vulnerable as these figures show, and it’s time to pay up rather than the meaningless soundbites we have been hearing from local politicians.
“After the applause, we want to see politicians of all parties supporting the GMB campaign to give key workers a minimum uplift of £2 per hour – local authorities should set an example and make it far more.”
The Scottish Government announced this month that all residents and staff will be tested at homes where cases are reported, regardless of symptoms.
The figures, which come from a leaked weekly testing report given to Dundee City Council from NHS Tayside, show 170 of the 441 care home staff tested so far have been positive.
Among all those in health and social care, including NHS workers, 578 of 2471 have tested positive.
This means almost a third of the total positive cases in the sector are from care home staff.
Dundee Labour leader Kevin Keenan said the statistics are “absolutely shocking”.
“They clearly show how at risk our care staff have been since the start of this crisis,” he said.
“Low paid female workers have been put at risk of infection by the SNP government.
“They cleared our hospitals and put vulnerable elderly people into care homes without tests to see if they were carrying the virus. Care workers have lost their lives as a result.
“At long last local agencies appear to be getting a grip of the situation in care homes with tests being made available quickly whenever there is an outbreak.
“More need to be done and we should be increasing the amount of testing hugely across all sectors.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously argued tests on people who do not have symptoms are not reliable.
She said it means testing people leaving hospital could give “false assurance” a person returning is not infected and cause a relaxation of safety controls.
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