County council leaders have reported ‘real challenges’ securing PPE equipment for care workers as the government issues new guidance on its use.
The County Councils Network’s health and social care spokesman, Cllr David Fothergill said while it welcomed the new guidance, which was published yesterday (2 April), it must come ‘hand in hand with a significant increase so care workers and frontline council workers have access to it’.
The guidance that advises any clinician working in a hospital, primary care or community care setting within two metres of a suspected or confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 patient should wear an apron, gloves, surgical mask and eye protection, based on the risk.
It also adds that some circumstances PPE which is there to protect the health and care worker can be worn for an entire session and doesn’t need to be changed between patients, as long as it is safe to do so.
The new guidance comes after repeated warnings from various organisations that frontline health and care staff do not have enough PPE equipment to protect themselves during the coronavirus outbreak.
Yesterday, the BMJ and the British Medical Association (BMA) launched a campaign to highlight the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers on.
‘It’s so important for social workers and social care staff to feel safe working and serving their communities,’ said the joint chief social workers for adults in England, Fran Leddra and Mark Harvey.
‘The social care sector is vital in helping our NHS colleagues to respond to the challenges this pandemic is posing and this new guidance will give the information and reassurance people need to keep them safe as they care for the people we love at the most difficult time.’
Cllr Fothergill said the NHS and social care are two sides of the same coin when it comes to coronavirus.
‘Care workers tend to very vulnerable people who are most likely to become seriously ill from coronavirus so it is essential they are able to effectively limit any risk of staff passing it on in such a tinderbox environment where an outbreak could be catastrophic,’ he added.
‘Equally as important is the need for swift discharge from hospital of those requiring care in the community, to free up more beds for those with the virus. Many providers in the private and voluntary sectors may not always wish to risk the safety of their existing residents by admitting recent coronavirus recoverees unless they can be sure it is safe to do so – and that begins with being able to give care workers PPE.’
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