Protection equipment for care workers is essential, says UNISON

Christina McAnea urges staff to use new hotline for reporting kit issues

Social care staff looking after the elderly and vulnerable are ‘frightened and frustrated’ at not getting access to protective equipment, says UNISON today (Wednesday).

The union has received reports from workers that employers are denying them masks and basic protection such as hand gel, and that supplies of other kit are running low. These safety essentials are vital in cutting the risk of them infecting the frail people they support, says UNISON.

Some staff have been driven to tears for fear they will infect their own families. One care worker, whose daughter has underlying health issues, said: “I feel guilty that I’ll be the one who puts her life at risk, every time I go to look after someone else’s parent.”

UNISON is urging employees to call the new government hotline set up to ensure personal protection equipment (PPE) reaches care workers who need it. This includes anyone who is experiencing shortages or no safety kit at all, and those concerned they are not receiving the correct guidance.

Local councils commission home and residential care from thousands of different private and not-for-profit providers. The concern is this fragmented, understaffed and underfunded system is struggling to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Care workers and their employers have huge concerns about getting their hands on the equipment they need. It’s too easy for staff to fall through the net given councils are dealing with many different care providers.

“Supplies for the NHS have rightly been given a lot of attention. But any shortages in social care are equally crucial. Solving this problem could help reassure thousands of care staff that they’re not putting themselves or the people they look after at risk.”

“We’d urge everyone who has a concern about PPE to call the new government hotline. This way we can ensure all providers have adequate supplies to protect staff and the people they care for.”


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