Boris Johnson has insisted that there is a “massive effort” going on to ensure that frontline staff have enough equipment throughout the coronavirus outbreak.
His pledge comes after government guidance, published last week, said there will be a free issue of personal protective equipment (PPE) to support residential care and domiciliary care providers.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “NHS staff are on the frontline and many are scared because the guidance has been changed to say that they do not need to wear full protective equipment when caring for patients.
“A senior doctor has said ‘the rest of the world is providing staff with full protective gear and we’re restricting it’.
“And this is a doctor saying ‘I’m scared’. We shouldn’t be scaring doctors and nurses. Is there a policy for them to have full protective equipment or not?”
The PM said: “This is a huge concern to everyone that our NHS staff should feel that they are able to interact with patients with perfect security and protection so there is a massive effort going on – comparable to the effort to build enough ventilators – to ensure that we have adequate supply of PPE equipment not just now but throughout the outbreak.”
When probed on PPE, priority virus testing for NHS staff, mass testing and social distancing measures, Boris Johnson continued: “We have stockpiles of PPE equipment and we are proceeding in accordance with the best scientific advice.
“And it is the timeliness of those measures that is absolutely vital in combating the spread of the epidemic and that is how you save lives.”
Mike Smith, CEO of Trinity Homecare and UKHCA Board Member, told BBC News last night that COVID-19 testing for home care workers is urgently needed, so employees who may be self-isolating, but do not have the virus, can go back to work, and reduce the risk of cross infecting the people they visit.
He also called on financial help to meet the pressures, adding: “The role of the care sector has been understated at all times. We are the fourth emergency sector and should be recognised as that.”