The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) told the Scottish Covid Inquiry that female nurses were warned that their masks would not always fit properly.

RCN Scotland director Colin Poolman said the inadequacy of the PPE issued to its members was at times "staggering".

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Better PPE would reduce the number of NHS staff contracting Covid, the RCN added.

Scotland's Covid public inquiry is looking into what happened during the country's response to the pandemic to determine what lessons can be learned for future public health emergencies.

Poolman was asked about the supply and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to nurses. She said many RCN members struggled to get the higher-grade masks, which create a seal around the nose and mouth, to fit properly.

She said: "Nursing is a predominantly female profession and many of the masks were not designed in smaller sizes, so we had major problems at times.

"The shortage [of PPE] was surprising in some ways. For example, there were staff who were asked to reuse PPE that was not designed for reuse because there was not enough material.

"The type of PPE was not always appropriate for the situation for which it was intended."

Poolman continued: "Members didn't feel prepared [for the pandemic] but they also didn't feel the right guidance was available and PPE was a major issue because there wasn't the supply we believed there should be."

The RCN Scotland director also claimed that the Scottish government had "ignored" concerns about airborne transmission of Covid during the pandemic.

The nursing union's argument since 2020, and later supported by the World Health Organization, was that Covid was transmitted through the air, but Mr Pullman told the inquiry that Scottish ministers had not responded to this point and "dismissed it in favor of droplet transmission".

There were reports that some coronavirus protective equipment was missing from the NHS in the first few months of the Covid outbreak.