Public service union UNISON has launched an online petition that demands the government take more action to ensure adequate PPE is made available to care workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
A new petition has been set-up by UNISON, who are demanding the government do more to deliver on its promises regarding PPE to protect care workers, elderly people and their families.
The union says that some care companies are still failing to provide accurate guidance on using PPE (personal protective equipment), which is increasing the risk for workers, care home residents and vulnerable people requiring care in their own home.
UNISON says that concerned care workers are telling the union that they are being denied access to vital safety equipment because it is locked away or their employers say it is not needed due to the absence of Covid 19 symptoms. UNISON says this in direct contrast to official guidance provided by Public Health England (PHE).
The latest guidance from PHE states that care workers should wear face masks when providing personal care “which requires them to be in direct contact with the residents or within two metres of a resident who is coughing”.
However, UNISON says these guidelines are not sufficiently clear or comprehensive enough, leading to different interpretations and lives being put at risk by unscrupulous employers.
UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said:
Care workers simply don’t feel safe, either for themselves, their families or the vulnerable people relying on them every day.
Covid-19 is rife in care homes across the UK with thousands dying before their time when we’ve known of the risks for weeks. But staff are still not being given the PPE they need to cut the risks.
Some tell us their employers are doing the right thing, but many care workers are being put in danger because what they’re being told is plain wrong. They feel helpless because they’re often on low pay and are left to choose between risking their health or paying their bills.
We need clear, simple and easily accessible guidance so staff know exactly what kit they’re entitled to and feel more confident to challenge employers refusing to provide it.
Last month we reported that thousands of NHS and care sector workers had used UNISON’s special hotline to report concerns about the lack of PPE, which has prompted the union to set up an online petition to put more pressure on the government to act.
The petition, which can be signed here: https://action.unison.org.uk/page/59627/petition/1, states:
Every day thousands of dedicated care and NHS staff and other key workers are forced to put themselves, their families and the people they care for in harm’s way because many do not have the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to do their jobs safely.
And every day we see more of these staff pay the ultimate price for their dedication and selfless service.
UNISON is demanding that:
- Every worker has the right to a risk assessment;
- There is enough PPE for every worker who needs it, in line with the risk assessment and formal guidance;
- There is proper training in infection control and use of PPE for every worker who needs it.