Over the last few weeks of lockdown in Dagenham and Rainham we have begun to see what commentators have called a ‘crisis within a crisis' referring to the alarming lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across the health sector and social care facilities.
Jon Cruddas MP has worked alongside neighbouring MPs and local businesses to coordinate what PPE is available to the places that need it, but this week it has emerged through anonymous tip-offs that care homes are suffering the brunt of the crisis.
Jon has been contacted by a number of care workers and those living in care homes who have suggested that Covid-19 related deaths are not being recorded properly, or included in government statistics, and that the lack of PPE is a hinderance to providing care.
Jon Cruddas said: "some of the stories I have heard where care workers are using makeshift protective equipment, and deaths are going unreported is shocking. I have been in regular contact with the Chief Executives of both Barking and Dagenham and Havering Council who assure me that these concerns are being worked through. However, I am worried that we now aren't getting an accurate picture of the impact coronavirus is having across Dagenham and Rainham."
Care homes and in particular ‘extra-care' homes look after some of the most vulnerable in our community, often elderly but not always. A recent report highlighted that almost a fifth of those in care homes are under-65 but living with disabilities.
Jon added: "I have urged the government to provide the support our care workers need to protect our elderly relatives and friends. Care workers aren't just there to provide assisted living, they are also fulfilling a valuable role as a support network for those unable to see family and friends."
This week Jon co-signed a letter alongside 58 other Labour MPs led by Kate Osborne MP highlighting that donations of PPE to the health sector, whilst commendable and a necessity, are leaving the social care sector in a precarious position.
The letter calls on the government for immediate action to:
- Contact every local authority and ask about the current stock levels of PPE and provide provision where needed.
- Ensure that all care workers have access to the correct level of PPE that they need to do their job safely without putting themselves or residents at risk.
- For the government to change its official guidance from care workers only needing to wear PPE when there are cases in the care home, to all care workers needing to wear PPE when at work even if there aren't any confirmed cases.
Jon concluded: "I will continue to lobby government throughout this crisis, and will stay in regular contact with both local authorities in my patch to ensure that our frontline NHS and social care staff get the support they need in order to keep us safe. I also want to commend the work of all those on the frontline at this time, they are doing a fantastic job."