Almost 2 million Scots face masks have shelf-life extended for Covid

Almost two million face masks earmarked for frontline staff in Scotland have had their "shelf-life" extended by at least five years since the start of the pandemic, it has emerged.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has insisted that all revalidated stock is tested to ensure it meets existing standards.

But Labour has branded it a "cheap way" to reward the efforts of the NHS.

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A member of clinical staff adjusts her mask. Picture: Neil Hall/AFP via Getty Images

A Parliamentary answer from the Health Secretary reveals that over 1.7 million FFP3 respirators manufactured by 3M had an expiry date of 2016 changed to 2021.

In addition more than 106,000 FFP3 respirators made by Alpha Solway had expiry dates changed from 2012 to 2021 - a five-year and nine-year difference respectively. In total, 1,878,965 masks have had their shelf life extended.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “The SNP Government offers ‘gratitude’ to frontline workers, but if this is the best they can do then we should all be worried.

“Palming off out-of-date PPE to valued NHS staff is a cheap way to reward their efforts and doesn’t inspire confidence in the Scottish Government’s new PPE Action Plan, which promises to support frontline staff and keep them safe.

Jeane Freeman said revalidating PPE is "standard practice."

“The Scottish Government should not be cutting corners when people’s lives are at stake. Our hospital staff and patients deserve better than this, and the best equipment.”

The details emerged after 87,000 Alpha Solway FFP3 respirators were recently recalled from dentists in Lanarkshire. Around 10 per cent failed tests to ensure correct fit around the face, protecting the wearer and patient.

Ms Freeman said the masks were tested and revalidated as part of UK-wide laboratory testing and still met official standards.

The Health Secretary said: "Revalidating stock and thereby extending the shelf-life of masks is standard practice to ensure supply of critical equipment to front line staff during crises.

"All revalidated PPE is required to meet the same standards and subjected to the same tests as equipment that is being tested for the first time."

The Scottish Government recently published its PPE Action plan, committing to providing key workers with access to PPE to help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic through winter and beyond.

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