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Care workers given just two single-use face masks to protect them

PUBLISHED: 06:14 11 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:54 12 April 2020

There have been problems getting enough coroanvirus PPE to care workers. Photo: Archant

There have been problems getting enough coroanvirus PPE to care workers. Photo: Archant

Archant © 2004

A care worker claims she was given just two disposable face masks to protect her from coronavirus, laying bare once again the struggles of getting enough protective equipment to staff.

Female nurse/doctor wearing a surgical mask against a dark background. NHS. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoFemale nurse/doctor wearing a surgical mask against a dark background. NHS. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The woman, who works for Norfolk County Council, visits people needing help in their homes and has close contact with mainly elderly people who have been discharged from hospital or referred by their GP.

She said that before the outbreak staff already used plastic gloves and aprons, but the only extra personal protective equipment (PPE) they have been given are two single-use face masks each.

“That is all they (the council) could supply us with,” she said. “We are going into people’s homes and have no control over the environment. There is no protection for us.

“None of us feel safe, particularly those with family members who are on the at risk category.”

The service she works for is called Norfolk First Support and the county council said that despite struggles with supplies, staff should be getting enough PPE.

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James Bullion, director of adult social services, said: “Getting adequate supplies of this equipment through has been a real challenge, with demand outstripping supply across the country.

“We have been receiving additional supplies this week and a huge effort to get these distributed, to Norfolk First Support and other care providers, is underway and will continue over the bank holiday weekend.

“It’s vital that these supplies keep coming though, so the Norfolk Resilience Forum have this week asked for Norfolk businesses to help with this effort if they possibly can.

“Care workers are doing crucial work, and doing a wonderful job, and we need to support them to do this as safely as possible.”

The care worker raised the issues with Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis.

He said: “For weeks now, care and health workers have been telling me how going to work is like being forced to play Russian roulette with their own health and the health of their families and friends.

“The consequence is that we’re now battling two pandemics - the disease itself and the fear of contracting which is understandably resulting in so many workers without PPE refusing to take the risk of going into work.”


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