Covid-19: Social care staff ‘risking lives for the want of a mask'

In a letter to the Health Minister, Janet Finch-Saunders AM – the Shadow Minister for Social Care – has called on the Welsh Government to prioritise the supply and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect social care employees.

The plea, made today (March 27), in an effort to slow and contain the spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus).

Mrs Finch-Saunders said:

“The threat seems to be increasing, and I believe that we are united in wanting to ensure that we are doing everything within our power to help protect frontline health and social care staff. 

“If we do not look after all of them, it is a real possibility that there might not be enough staff to look after our constituents.”

Suggestions made by Mrs Finch-Saunders include:

  • ·        Establishing and tasking a team to contact each social care provider in Wales to establish   their PPE requirements
  • ·        Clarifying what health and safety guidance has been provided to everyone working in the social care sector
  • ·        Detailing how PPE guidance is being disseminated, and the frequency of its updating
  • ·        Explaining what support is being provided to those working in the social care sector in relation to accessing PPE

She added:

“I have also asked the Health Minister to consider creating a clear online campaign stating how care providers are to contact the Welsh Government Emergency Co-ordination Centre.”

Mrs Finch-Saunders acknowledged the Health Minister’s move to improve access to PPE this week, and that he has accepted continuing issues with its provision.

However, she called the current situation “… a crisis point in the social care sector”. 

“Over the last 12 hours I have had numerous individuals from across Wales working in the social care sector respond to my call for them to let me know if they are unable to obtain the appropriate PPE required. “

She detailed care homes that require hundreds of boxes of 50 masks to protect staff for around one week’s time; mental health units that are unable to acquire masks and eye masks; and situations where some social care staff, out of fear of contracting the virus, may start refusing to undertake their tasks. 

She concluded:

“I have asked the Health Minister to consider this as a matter of urgency. Otherwise, lives will be at risk, and just for the sake of a mask.”