Responding to data published today (Tuesday) by the Office for National Statistics which include more than 200 Covid-related deaths in care homes, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:
“These figures are nothing short of a national scandal. Elderly and vulnerable residents face a death sentence because staff lack personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Care workers report that protective kit is still being locked away, having to make single-use masks last all week and being told they don’t need masks because residents aren’t displaying virus symptoms. Many talk too of there not being enough essential items like hand sanitiser, gloves and visors to go around.
“Care staff working in residential homes and out in the community feel like they – and the people they care for – are bottom of the priority list for PPE.
“More than 3,500 messages from anxious and frightened employees have been sent via UNISON’s PPE alert hotline since it was created. Many are worried for the safety of the people they look after, their own families and for their own protection.
“If supermarkets and firms employing repair engineers who go into people’s homes can give staff PPE, then all care workers should be given the appropriate kit if they feel they need it. Relatives too want to know their loved ones are being protected from the virus.
“Managers and social care providers must ensure there are enough supplies. Otherwise more people will lose their loved ones needlessly to coronavirus.”
Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.