The Prime Minister must make it an urgent priority to ensure social care and NHS staff have access to the protective equipment and regular testing that they desperately need.
NHS staff are working around the clock to save lives, while being exposed to an increasing number of coronavirus patients. To ensure that these vital frontline staff do not become sick themselves and are able to care for others, the government must provide them with proper protection from the virus.
As it stands, GPs are being forced to make their own protective equipment and some NHS workers have resorted to wearing bin bags as makeshift protection. This situation simply isn’t acceptable.
Many people who rely on social care will be at particular risk from the coronavirus, which makes testing of care workers especially important. But, again, the government has not put this in place.
A lack of testing is affecting charities as well. Sue Ryder, a charity that provides palliative care, has said that “despite following all the established routes for access to protective equipment for their staff, they have received little to none, and their workforce is depleting daily as they have no access to tests”.
Shockingly, a leaked email has revealed that the Prime Minister wrote to UK research institutes just three days ago, saying there were “no [testing] machines available to buy”. The government should have taken steps to acquire testing machines weeks, if not months ago, when Ministers were first warned about the threat of the global pandemic.
Boris Johnson must now move heaven and earth to get protective clothing, equipment, and testing in place to properly protect our vital NHS and care staff.