FRONTLINE ambulance staff in Largs fear that PPE equipment they are using which is 'four years out of date' could have contributed to one of their colleagues catching coronavirus.

The News understands worried workers have raised concerns with bosses but have been told that the materials - which have been relabelled - are suitable.

Batches of the PPE have had stickers placed over the original date - which was printed directly on the packaging - indicating an extended shelf life until August 2021.

One Largs ambulance staff worker spoke anonymously to the News about staff fears.

He said: "One of our colleagues caught the virus. This is despite the fact he has been rigorously following guidelines, so there is understandably a lot of uneasiness about the PPE equipment, which was past its date.

"Wearing face masks which are four years past their original expiry date is worrying.

"The party line from the bosses is that the equipment has all been tested, is fit for purpose and has come from national stock.

"Now that one of our colleagues has caught the virus it is unsettling for all of us." The local ambulance driver is in his 50s and had been ill for a couple of weeks. He is now recovering at home.

The PPE equipment being used by local crews includes FSP3 surgical masks, goggles, gloves.

They have been told to wear the equipment at all times as patients may be asymptomatic.

The anonymous staff worker said: "With a mask which is four years out of date, we simply don't know how safe it is. We are aware it is an NHS wide issue, but the expiry date is there for a reason."

There are eleven staff altogether at the Largs ambulance centre in Waterside Street.

The driver said: "We are all working on the frontline and it is a difficult situation as we will get disciplined if we refuse to wear the PPE, even if it is inadequate.

"Surely as an employer they have a responsibility to ensure that we are adequately protected.

"We have made complaints about it but we have hit a brick wall.

"We follow the same rules as everyone else - our colleague was half-way through four shifts when he started to show the symptoms.

"I had a really bad cold a few weeks ago but never got tested.

"In the last few weeks they have started testing us but I feel that they were too slow to bring these measures in. The fear is we are not properly protected."

Labour Cllr Alex Gallagher said: "It is alarming to me that the PPE is beyond its original use by date. It isn't right that we have frontline workers taking risk with sub standard equipment. The Scottish and UK Governments have failed people, they were well warned this was coming."

Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson said: "The masks were tested and found to be fine or they would not have been distributed.

"It is not possible to say how or where an individual was infected."

A spokesperson for NHS National Services Scotland said: “Items such as surgical masks can be re-validated following their original expiration dates and distributed.

“They have typically been securely stored under controlled conditions, often on one site.

“This re-validation process involves thorough laboratory testing to ensure the item remains fit for use.

“Once those stringent checks have taken place, the new expiration date is applied and the items are distributed.

“This approach ensures that we maximise the resources available for the NHS staff at the forefront of Scotland’s COVID-19 response.”

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: "Any PPE equipment made available to boards from the national stockpiles, including those beyond their recommended use by date, have been fully safety checked and deemed safe to use by NHS Scotland following rigorous testing and as such, we have no concerns over this equipment.

“The safety of our staff and patients remains our highest priority and we continue to follow and implement the clear and unequivocal guidelines of Health Protection Scotland.”