Black Country care home staff in coronavirus epicentre left short of PPE
Care homes across the Black Country have been left short of vital personal protective equipment during the coronavirus crisis, the Express & Star has learned.
Many homes that care for the elderly are running low on masks and have no gloves, goggles, aprons and hand gel for staff to use, despite promises from the Prime Minister that they would be fully stocked with PPE by last weekend.
In one care home in Wolverhampton there have been two confirmed cases of Covid-19, while in another, two people died after showing symptoms of the virus.
A care home worker told the E&S: "We're out here on the frontline doing our best in difficult circumstances, but we don't have the basic equipment we need."
MHA, one of the UK's major providers, said more 10 per cent of its staff were unable to work, while concerns over the spread of the virus in care homes continues to grow.
The Black Country has been described as a coronavirus "epicentre", with the death rate from the disease higher than anywhere else in the country up to last weekend.
Many homes across the region have recently taken delivery of 300 masks, although they can last only a matter of days before replacements are required.
During Prime Minister's Questions last week Boris Johnson promised that appropriate protective equipment would arrive with care workers within days.
Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden has written to Mr Johnson calling on him to intervene "as a matter of urgency" so care home staff can get the PPE they need.
The Labour MP said his office had spoken to more than 20 care providers in his constituency, with the majority saying they were short of equipment.
He said managers were left "desperately" trying to source PPE for staff having run out of supplies and not knowing when any new equipment would arrive.
He told the E&S: "I know ministers are under huge pressure but it is absolutely vital that social care workers have the PPE they need.
"The Prime Minister told Parliament last week that they would have what they need by now.
"That hasn’t happened and it is urgent that these workers get what they need to help them do their jobs safely and to help in the battle against this virus."
Unison has urged the Government to end the shortages of PPE in the care sector, which houses more than 400,000 of the UK’s most elderly and vulnerable people.
Official NHS figures suggest that around one fifth of all confirmed and suspected Covid-19 related deaths happened in care homes, hospices, domestic homes and other locations.
Walsall Trades Union Council said all frontline health care staff "must have proper protective equipment and, where necessary, appropriate training is essential when people are asked to work in roles that are not part of their normal job".