UNISON continues to push the government over PPE

NHS England provides assurances on access that union has been calling for

Photo of male healthworker in mask and cap

UNISON has pushed the NHS in England to provide assurances on the protective equipment our members working in healthcare have been calling for and on ensuring our members are kept as safe as possible.

Members working across the NHS have voiced concerns about their access to personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, aprons and gloves, and being able to keep themselves safe.

UNISON wrote to the government yesterday (25 March) asking for clarity on previous guidance, to ensure the priority remains keeping staff safe so they’re able to support the public.

In response to UNISON’s concerns, NHS England and NHS Improvement have now announced that there has been an increase in PPE being delivered for use by frontline healthcare workers in England.

They also clarified guidance on where full gowns are required.

To date, 24.6 million gloves, 7.5 million face masks and 1.9 million eye protectors and other protective equipment have been delivered, with a further 7.6 million facemasks going to 236 NHS organisations today, alongside other key protective equipment.

Every GP practice, dental practice and community pharmacy has now had a PPE delivery.

All care homes, hospices, and home care providers will also have a PPE delivery, and these began earlier this week.

A 24-hour, seven-day-a-week helpline has also been set up for healthcare providers to contact should they have concerns about their PPE stock levels.

UNISON has been told that the NHS Supply Chain and NHS England is successfully identifying additional products and is bulk ordering them at pace.

In addition, NHS Supply Chain and Public Health England continue to explore UK-based manufacturing options to provide further security of supply.

UNISON continues to urge government to make sure that members in the devolved nations and social care have access to adequate PPE.

“Over the coming weeks, the entire country will be relying on NHS and social care staff,” said head of health Sara Gorton. “It’s vital the government acts immediately to reassure all health workers they’ll soon have everything necessary.”