The health secretary Matt Hancock has come under fire from MPs over PPE supplies to care homes and social care teams as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Mr Hancock appeared before the health and social care parliamentary select committee on 17 April and faced a barrage of questions over the government’s handling of the current crisis.
The chair of the committee and former health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, quizzed Mr Hancock over the government’s current guidance, which he said does not require PPE to be worn in care homes for non Covid patients.
‘This puzzles a lot of people,’ said Mr Hunt. ‘Because if those same patients – about 400,000 people across the UK – were living at home, they would be in the shielding category, and all the home care workers who came to look after them – to wash them, get them up in the mornings and so on – would be required to wear masks? So, why does the guidance not require that in care homes? Why are we taking that risk with residents in care homes?’
The health secretary replied he could see why ‘people might read that as an inconsistency’ and was ‘happy to take it away’.
Mr Hunt also brought up the example of social care provider Leonard Cheshire, which he said looks after 3,000 residents across the country.
‘They say that it has been a battle, but they have got basic PPE now for all their staff,’ said the committee chair. ‘However, what they can’t get is any of the higher-level PPE.
‘They have nurses, for example, who are doing what are called aerosol-generating procedures, which means their staff could be infected if they get sprayed by a patient, and they could indeed pass that on to other residents.’
In response, the health secretary admitted there has been a ‘global shortage of PPE’.
‘We are rolling out what is called the Clipper service to social care, because the NHS supply chain has brought in an online delivery and request system,’ said Mr Hancock.
‘We now have a responsibility to deliver PPE to 58,000 settings, so the NHS supply chain has gone from what is essentially a wholesale distribution to a retail distribution in a very short amount of time, under intense pressure,’ added Mr Hancock.
‘I think they have done an amazing job. We have then brought in Clipper and the Army to bolster their logistical capabilities.’
Photo Credit – Derwiki (Pixabay)