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Lack of PPE for health and social care staff a ‘crisis within a crisis’, unions warn 

Lack of PPE for health and social care staff a ‘crisis within a crisis’, unions warn 

The unions say the lack of PPE means staff are forced to 'risk their lives' (PA)

3 min read

The lack of protective equipment for frontline medical staff has been labelled a “crisis within a crisis” by a host of trade unions.

In a joint statement they say workers in the health and social care sectors are being forced to “risk their lives” without access to the right safety gear.

The leaders of unions UNISON, GMB, Unite and the TUC, along with the Royal College of Midwives, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and British Dietetic Association are calling on the Government to urgently increase the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to staff.

They say: “Workers are being exposed to unreasonable and unnecessary risk by the ongoing failure to provide key workers with adequate PPE.   

“Every day we hear from our members that despite repeated assurances from government, people are being asked to work with inadequate or out of date protective equipment – and that is where PPE is being provided at all.  

“Key workers deserve better. They are risking their own health and safety for us. 

“We must be clear what that means. Those who are subject to prolonged and direct exposure to the virus – such as health and social care professionals – are risking their lives.”    

They add: “As a trade union movement we are willing and able to work with government to get through this crisis. 

“But we cannot allow our members to be put at unnecessary and entirely preventable risk.   

“We seek an urgent meeting and urgent action to make sure that PPE is making it to our front line.  It is the very least workers deserve.”    

It comes as medics at a hospital in Essex have warned they may need to limit services to a "bare minimum" amid concerns over a shortage of PPE.

In a letter to management, staff at Southend Hospital have warned they will have to put the measures in place unless things improve by close of play on Wednesday, according to the BBC.

Number 10 said 390 million pieces of PPE had been delivered to the NHS over the last two weeks, with staff able to call a national helpline if they need more.

The Prime Minister's official spokesperson said: "Today we are delivering 600,000 FFP3 masks... and 4.18 million surgical face masks."

They added: "The full weight of Government is behind this effort, including the military, and we're working closely with industry, social care providers, the NHS and others so that NHS care staff have the protection that they deserve."

And  health department spokesperson said: “We are working around the clock to give the NHS and the wider social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak.

“In the past two weeks the NHS Supply Chain have delivered 397 million pieces of PPE equipment, and another 4.7million facemasks were delivered today.

“While we are confident that enough supply is now reaching the frontline, we appreciate there were limited distribution problems to begin with while we dealt with a new demand caused by this emerging epidemic.”

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