A porter employed at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, has tested positive for coronavirus and is no self-isolating. More than 20 of his colleagues have also had to self-isolate as a result, to ensure they do not contract the virus or pass it on to patients.
Replacement staff have had to be drafted in to maintain the normal running of the £842m facility, with a source from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirming the hospital management had been “frantically trying to get agency staff to back-fill the posts”.
The fear is two-fold. Firstly, that he contracted the virus in the conduct of his portering duties that involved collection and transfer of clinical and related wastes, and secondly that the infection my be passed on to other employees, patients and visitors etc.
Clearly, the second concern is real. However, the likelihood of acquisition of coronavirus infection from handling bags or bins of clinical waste is small indeed yet this might be sufficient to send waves through the other portering staff teams in Glasgow and elsewhere, and those working in the clinical waste sector, but with no evidence and low probability that concern seems unnecessary.
This unfortunate person works, I assume, about 40 hours per week, leaving almost 130 hours a week during which to contract the infection away from and unrelated to work. Nevertheless, it is clear that among every hospital workforce, porters and down at the bottom of the pecking order in many ways, especially when it comes to the provision go hygiene and PPE items. That must change.