AN INCREDIBLE effort by the community in Dumfries and Galloway is ensuring that health staff in the region have access to much-needed scrubs.

A national call was issued by the National Health Service seeking scrubs for their staff and Doreen Johnston – a retired dressmaker – offered up her skills and within hours found herself as the regional chair of the NHS D and G ‘For the Love of Scrubs’ group.

Within days, a Facebook group was set up and individuals with skills in sewing, knitting and crocheting were offering their support to create scrubs all designed to meet with NHS specifications for safety in the workplace. The fabric is also sourced without compromising supply to manufacturers of NHS scrubs.

The Facebook group membership has been growing daily with over 900 supporters and so has their offering – now as well as scrubs, members are also making pyjamas and washbags.

The Scottish Farmer:

Emma Duncan of Roses Wardrobe in Langholm busy making scrubs - normally she can be found making vintage style clothing

Doreen spoke with the SF about the past whirlwind month and how demand is growing daily for clothing donations in the region.

“The NHS are crying out for scrubs in Dumfries and Galloway. When the pandemic began, a lot of people working out in the field had their scrubs pulled centrally and were left in uniforms – which causes problems if they are returning home to families who can be put at risk.

“Over the past month we have been supplying scrubs to the Royal Infirmary but also focussing on supporting community hospitals and nurses, midwives, care homes and mental health staff - who are really struggling for supplies,” she continued. “We felt it was only fair that all health staff get the same level of support as those in the Royal Infirmary.”

Doreen and her team of 20 cluster co-ordinators have so far sewn and delivered 75 scrub sets to Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary and have requests for locations from Langham to Stranraer, up to Moffat and Sanquhar, as well as everywhere in between.

She explained that it has had to be a carefully co-ordinated effort as they are having to ensure everything fits within government regulations from the spec’ of the clothing to delivering them safely to local communities.

“We have orders for over 1000 scrubs just now and I’m getting more requests in every day,” Doreen said. “Not everyone in our group can make scrubs, so some have focussed on making pyjama sets for people who are taken into hospital and often do not have time to take them with them. With restrictions on people having visitors just now and, in some places, people who do not have family to visit them, nightwear is really important.”

A call was put out to the local community to donate fabric such as duvet sheets and covers which volunteers are now sewing into wonderful pyjama designs.

The Scottish Farmer:

The group have also been making washbags for health workers to place their work clothing into as a means to protect the health of loved ones at home

The group has also been extremely busy making washbags for the local community which are designed for health staff to put their work clothing in to and ensure an extra level of protection for their families.

“Many health workers who had their scrubs taken off them are left with uniforms and when they go home are either taking them in plastic bags or carrying them into the house which can compromise their loved ones.

“With these washbags, all they have to do is pop their work uniforms inside and straight into the washing machine along with the bag,” Doreen explained.

They have so far had orders for over 3500 washbags and have managed to make and deliver 2500 to around 96 locations in D and G.

The main setback to the groups’ work has been getting access to fabric to make the scrubs. The NHS ‘Scotland for the Love of Scrubs’ have a central Go Fund Me page which has been raising donations for volunteers, however demand is currently outstripping supply

The Rotary clubs of Dumfries and Galloway have been instrumental in raising funds for Doreen and the whole group to continue their efforts.

The Scottish Farmer:

Doreen Johnston and her NHS D&G For the Love of Scrubs team have recieved support from the Rotary Clubs of Dumfries to buy fabric to make scrubs

Junior vice-president of the Rotary Club of Dumfries, Graham Edwards, commented: “I was initially approached by Doreen Johnston, seeking our support in promoting the donation of materials and further volunteers to her group through our club Facebook etc.

“After a few phone calls we quickly had the posts on and received an excellent response for volunteers. In the background I put a proposal together to assist fundraising through our club and within 24 hours we had donations of £1200 to support Doreen’s group,” he said.

“Our own GoFundMe page was then established and we are now managing the donations page and finances for the purchase of specialist material for the making of scrubs to support the group.

“As of Sunday, April 26, in the space of two weeks, just more than £10,500 has been raised. An amazing effort from the public to help support our frontline healthcare workers,” he added.

Doreen said: “We don’t know how long this is going to go on for, but the demand for our work is increasing daily and we will keep on answering calls from the community.

“The feedback we have had has been phenomenal from frontline staff who are delighted to receive different items and it is great to know we can do our bit to support their hard work at this difficult time,” she concluded.

The Scottish Farmer:

Knitted hearts

Doreen Johnston -  "The patients that die during this terrible time are not allowed their family with them and so by putting a little heart with their loved one as they sadly pass away, a duplicate heart can then be sent out to the families.

We are supplying these to Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary at their request and we have rolled it out to the community hospitals and care homes in Dumfries and Galloway."