Monday, 8 June 2020
Campaign reply: Will you pledge to #ProtectNHSworkers?
Thank you to all those who have contacted me about the #ProtectNHSWorkers campaign.
I have written extensively on the issue of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and have been working tirelessly with my colleagues within the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and local leads within Cornwall on this very important issue. One of my more recent blog posts on this is available here:
We have now signed over 100 new deals with PPE suppliers around the world. Here in the UK, thanks to the efforts of Lord Deighton and his team and the brilliance of domestic manufacturers we have signed contracts for over two billion items of PPE, including facemasks, visors, gowns and aprons.
I can also assure you that all NHS staff who need a test for coronavirus are able to receive one. The Government is also testing the families of NHS workers, as well as other critical public-sector workers, including those who work for the police and fire services. Anyone working with the NHS is able to access these tests as a priority. Testing capacity has significantly increased and currently exceeds 200,000 per day.
The Government will also begin offering antibody tests to health and care staff, eligible patients and care residents in England to see if they have had coronavirus, representing further progress in our national testing programme. The Government signed contracts to supply over 10 million tests from Roche and Abbott in the coming months. The Government will begin rolling these out in a phased way, prioritising our NHS and care staff, where there is a clear value in knowing who has had the virus.
The Government will continue to do all it can to work to ensure our NHS staff are protected and supported as they carry out their lifesaving work. On issues such as sick pay, we have made Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) available for people with Covid-19 symptoms available from day one of their illness (it was available after four days previously) and ensured stronger welfare support for people who might not be eligible for SSP. The Chief Executive of NHS England has already written to senior NHS leaders to make clear that staff should be offered NHS-reimbursed hotel accommodation so they can continue to work if they are affected by PHE’s 14 day household isolation policy. Many local businesses across the country have also been offering accommodation free of charge to all NHS and care workers that need it.
Additionally, if any NHS staff or social care workers sadly lose their life to Covid-19, their families will qualify for death in service benefits. Resident families without leave to remain who sadly lose a loved one working within NHS or social care will be granted indefinite leave to remain, free of charge. Every death is a tragedy and very sadly, some NHS staff and social care workers have made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of saving the lives of others. This is being implemented immediately, and retrospectively, to ensure no bereaved families will be forced from their home and will be able to access significant financial assistance during a very challenging time.
This outbreak reminds us of the huge debt of gratitude we all owe the brilliant NHS and care staff working in this country, and I can assure you that the Government will continue to ensure they are supported.
Thanks once again for raising this with me, and as ever, if anyone living within the St Austell and Newquay constituency is experiencing any difficulty with the above issues, or any other matters, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and my team. You can find contact details on my website – www.stevedouble.org.uk