On Sunday, the Government confirmed that an urgently needed shipment of PPE equipment scheduled for today had been delayed in Turkey, and two days later we still do not know when it will arrive. Our NHS staff and social care workers have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic heroically, but are being consistently left without the vital equipment they need. It is shameful that the Government has revised NHS guidelines to ask staff to resort to aprons and to work without full-length protective clothing. The fact that this change to the guidelines has been made only in England, but not in Scotland or Wales where serious shortages of PPE are not reported, indicates that it has been made in response to the shortage, and that is of grave concern. No nurse, doctor, carer or any other key worker should be left feeling unsafe and unprotected whilst working to save lives or deliver essential services.
Since the beginning of this crisis, I have been calling on the Government to provide the resources the NHS and social care workers urgently need. You can see my question to Matt Hancock on resources for King’s College Hospital here: https://youtu.be/LOYsgItfJMo and you can read some of my written questions to the Government here: https://tinyurl.com/y95keluq
It is alarming that many NHS trusts are reporting that they may run out of PPE within the next few days, and yet across the country, manufacturing companies including many in the textiles industry are reporting that they have approached the government to offer help in meeting the shortage, but have received no response. Some are producing PPE which is being shipped to other countries. I have been working hard to support local health services and care providers secure the equipment they need. I am in regular contact with King’s College Hospital and local care providers and I am raising any difficulties they are reporting with the Government, but we need desperately need the government to take a different approach with a national strategy for UK manufacturing to marshal every resource at our disposal to make the PPE that key workers need.
I am pleased to have been appointed by Keir Starmer to a new role in the Shadow Cabinet Office team, and we are calling on the government urgently to review its approach to PPE and to enable UK manufacturers, large and small to get to work producing PPE so that all of our key workers can receive the protective equipment they desperately need.
Last week, I spoke with care homes across the constituency to offer my support and have been liaising with local councils to resolve shortages wherever these were report. Many carers are working in extremely harrowing conditions for unacceptably low pay, without the PPE they need. As part of our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital that our social care system is comprehensively reformed to ensure fair pay, secure contracts, safe working conditions and access to training and career progression for everyone who works in social care.
I hope to make contact with the few care homes I have not yet spoken to in the coming days, but if you are aware of any care homes with urgent shortages please do let me know by emailing [email protected] and I will try to ensure that they receive urgent help.