Health visitors and community nurses going into the homes of families with children and babies urgently require personal protective equipment (PPE), Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 31 March).
Unite also wants PPE to go to the thousands of staff working in social care settings, such as care homes, who feel forgotten by ministers.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Health visitors and community nurses need PPE equipment today as they offer high-level professional advice on home visits to the parents of tomorrow’s generation of adults.”
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), has joined the chorus of frustration from unions and professional organisations over the slow roll-out of PPE to NHS staff.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The government needs to provide urgently an immediate, adequate and free-flowing supply of PPE to the hospital and community sectors of the NHS.
“And ministers should not ignore the forgotten army of thousands of dedicated workers employed in social care settings, who are often low-paid.
“We urge a redoubled effort by ministers to cut through the logistics’ logjams and get this equipment to the frontline where our brave doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are risking their health to save others.
“It is sometimes forgotten that health visitors and community nurses are out there every day visiting parents in their homes offering excellent advice on new born babies and young children.
“And while it is generally accepted that children are relatively immune from Covid-19, they or their parents may unwittingly have picked up the virus.
“The health visitor and community nurse role is particularly important now as parents are, quite rightly, extra anxious about their own health and that of their children.
“The least we can do is to see that the community nurse workforce has the right protective equipment.”
Unite lead professional officer for health visiting Obi Amadi said: “Our community practitioner members are working really hard to provide services in the community. In many areas, they have been struggling to keep themselves and those they are visiting safe because of the lack of PPE. There is also a reported lack of hand sanitisers.
“The health and care staff working in the community play a vitally important role, but feel they have not had access to enough PPE, nor been sufficiently recognised for their tireless below-the radar efforts at this time of national emergency.”