Medical staff at Perth Royal Infirmary (PRI) have raised concerns about information sharing after they learned an elderly care ward would be specialising in coronavirus care just days before the move came into effect.
The Tay Ward is now a dedicated “Covid-19 step down ward”.
It is understood it will be for patients aged 65 and above who are in need of care eight to 14 days after being diagnosed with Covid-19, and may be suffering from other conditions.
A staff member, who asked not to be named, said: “We were told about this on the Thursday and Friday, giving us the weekend to ‘prepare’ ourselves.
“We have been told there are no vaccines for us as yet, but management have had the vaccine, even though they’re not front line or not working directly with Covid-19 patients.
“We don’t have to be vaccinated but are advised to do so, yet they can’t guarantee when the vaccine will be available for us.
“Our PPE is basic – apron, gloves, mask and visors – but we’re getting conflicting information about infection control issues.”
The staff member said the hospital is already “incredibly short staffed” and the wellbeing of people is being affected.
They added: “The pandemic is taking its toll on us enough as it is but now we have extra anxiety on top as we’re going into the ‘unknown’.
“We as a team are trying our best to work together, however tensions are rising and we have a lot of sickness – not necessarily all Covid-19 related.
“Most of us also have families that include vulnerable individuals.”
NHS Tayside said it is rearranging services as part of its response to the ever-changing demands of both winter and Covid-19.
A spokeswoman said: “Health and social care services are currently responding to a number of demands with increasing pressures across hospitals and community services.
“To be in the best position to respond to the twin pressures of winter and the ongoing response to Covid-19, our clinical and support teams have been working together to action the next phase of NHS Tayside’s response plan.
“Alongside changes at Ninewells Hospital to increase the number of wards which are dedicated Covid-19 units, the next step in the plan is to mobilise a dedicated Covid step down ward on the PRI site to support the increase in patients requiring hospital admission across our sites.
“Tay Ward, which is in a separate area from the main ward block at PRI, has been temporarily repurposed as this dedicated Covid step down facility.”
The spokeswoman said meetings had been held to provide information to employees and senior staff are available on site to support colleagues and answer questions.
“The Infection Prevention and Control Team has been working with staff to provide support and all appropriate PPE (aprons, fluid resistant safety masks, gloves and visors) continue to be available on the ward in accordance with the national guidance,” she added.
“Staff working within the clinical area have also been prioritised to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, with the majority already having had their vaccination and the remainder scheduled to receive it in the coming days.”
The Tay Ward was closed due to an outbreak of coronavirus in the early weeks of the pandemic. There were no patients on it at the time it shut in April.
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