Trade union GMB has written to Matt Hancock to demand all NHS and social care workers are given access to full PPE to prevent “thousands more” unnecessary deaths.
In the letter to the Health and Social Care Secretary, the union says in order to save lives, workers must be provided with full coverage of skin, hair and clothing, including head covers; goggles; FFP3 masks; coveralls or long-sleeved gowns; shoe coverings; medical grade gloves.
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said: “Our health and social care services are on the point of collapse due to COVID-related absence and immense pressure on the already creaking system.
“They are putting their lives at risk to try and save ours – the least we can do is make sure they are properly protected while they do it.
“Ministers must step in and make sure our health and social care workers have what they need to keep us safe, or thousands of people will die unnecessarily.”
According to the ONS, 618 health and social care workers’ deaths in England and Wales were linked to COVID-19 up to June 30, the latest date for which figures are available.
The Department of Health and Social Care has recently extended the provision of free PPE through its free portal, but a survey conducted by the National Care Forum found that it was failing to meet care providers’ needs, across all settings.
The survey showed that 33% of providers using the portal in October received sufficient supplies to meet their needs. The other 67%, on average, were receiving about 48% of their PPE requirements.