Leaders have issued an urgent plea for care homes to be given more priority in the distribution of PPE as staff approach breaking point in the battle against the coronavirus.
Care England CEO, Professor Martin Green OBE, told MPs his members are reporting having PPE “taken at the borders” for the NHS, while Unison called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to end the severe shortages of protective equipment in the sector.
Reports of a pending crisis are growing from across the country as providers struggle to contain the spread of the virus.
In Cumbria, former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron warned that social care PPE stocks could run out by the end of the week, while in Scotland Viv Dickinson of the charity CrossReach called on the Scottish Government to issue more protective equipment immediately.
Providers are, meanwhile, warning of rising staff shortages as more workers go off sick.
Leading not for profit provider MHA told The Guardian that 750 of its staff – more than one in ten – were unable to work, and confirmed deaths from the disease were rising.
An MHA spokesperson told CHP: “We want to emphasise how important it is that sufficient PPE is given to the care sector and also to present the reality of the situation that is replicated across the care sector and the NHS, which has been documented across the media. As one of the largest and longest established providers of care in the UK it is incumbent on MHA to speak up for the older people we care for, our colleagues and the wider sector.
“We want to assure you that because MHA runs 160 care homes and retirement living schemes across the country, we are able to make sure that all of our sites have sufficient PPE for our employees and residents, as we are able to re-allocate and move supplies between our services. This does not, however, take away from the fact that resources are stretched and the current distribution and allocation mechanisms need to be addressed by the Government as a matter of urgency.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are working around the clock to give the NHS and the wider social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak.
“In the past two weeks the NHS Supply Chain have delivered 170 million pieces of PPE equipment, and another 2.9million facemasks were delivered on Tuesday.
“Whilst we are confident that enough supply is now reaching the frontline, we appreciate there were limited distribution problems to begin with while we dealt with a new demand caused by this emerging epidemic.
“The full weight of the Government is behind this effort and we continue to work closely with industry, social care providers, the NHS, NHS Supply Chain and the army so all our NHS and care staff have the protection they deserve.”