Care home workers looking after elderly people during the coronavirus crisis are having to go an extra 16 days without special protective clothing, an MP has said.
South West Wiltshire MP Dr Andrew Murrison said a delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) to Wiltshire Council was meant to take place on Tuesday, but has now been delayed until 9 April.
Confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths are dramatically rising in the UK with each passing day, and Dr Murrison said he was “dismayed” at the delay.
He told Yahoo News UK on Tuesday: “That’s obviously not satisfactory given that we know COVID-19 is already in care settings and that care workers are key workers. They need to be protected and safe in what they are doing.
“I’m told there is sufficient PPE but it’s in the wrong places, so it’s obviously a logistics issue, which given the enormity of this crisis is to be expected. But we do need to make sure that care workers are properly protected in their workplace.
“They deal with vulnerable people, elderly people, people at risk from COVID-19. Care workers themselves need to remain well in order to provide care, so it’s crucial PPE is given to anybody who is patient-facing in a care setting.”
Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice
Dr Murrison said he suspected the equipment was “perfectly understandably” being prioritised for frontline NHS staff, but warned the “issue in care settings needs to be resolved”.
The Conservative MP said: “I’m encouraging ministers to do all in their power to get over the logistical hurdles that appear to exist in preventing people getting the equipment they need.”
Yahoo News UK has approached the Department of Health for comment, but has not received a response.
However, health secretary Matt Hancock said at Tuesday’s daily coronavirus briefing in Downing Street that 7.5 million pieces of PPE have now been shipped.
Despite the concerns raised by Dr Murrison, he also claimed “the UK is better placed than other countries [for PPE supplies], not least because of our preparation for seasonal influenza and also for Brexit, which means we have stockpiled more of this stuff than other countries have”.