A LACK of clarity over the national supply line for personal protective equipment (PPE) is putting the ability of Reading Borough Council and Local Government to respond effectively to the Covid-19 crisis at risk.
The Council has added its name to a growing list of local authorities calling for urgent national action to ensure social care workers on the frontline of the local response – along with healthcare professionals in Reading – are fully protected and have the confidence to do their jobs at this critical time.
Reading Borough Council’s first delivery of PPE contained only 40% of the equipment ordered, and subsequent deliveries came at short notice and with few details of what items would be available. The short-term nature of deliveries leaves the Council unable to plan effectively for the PPE needs of its own social care staff who are in the community caring for vulnerable residents, and the urgent requests for PPE from healthcare partners – including local care homes, GPs, pharmacies and funeral directors.
The shortage of PPE has been compounded by confusion nationally on how local authorities and healthcare partners should be accessing PPE, and a lack of clarity on the correct method of distribution in each area.
Locally, businesses, schools and colleges have manufactured or donated PPE to the Council for social care workers looking after vulnerable members of the community and for use by other essential council services. Supplies continue to be low with local demand for PPE growing.
The national shortage of PPE combined with the new Government sponsored system still being four weeks from going live, is causing widespread concern across local authorities, including Reading.
Councillor Jason Brock, Reading Borough Council Leader, said:
The discussion around the national shortage of PPE has been running since the start of the Covid-19 crisis in the UK. Some weeks in, however, local councils and healthcare colleagues, who are at the frontline of this crisis, are in a position where we still do not know with any certainty when the next delivery of PPE will be received and what it will contain. This is unacceptable.
“I have personally visited Council staff at the Civic Offices co ordinating the distribution of PPE locally, and they are doing a magnificent job under very difficult circumstances, as are our social care staff and healthcare professionals across Reading. That does not take away from the fact that at this time the Council is having to plan for the PPE needs of its own social care staff, and the urgent requests for PPE from healthcare partners – including local care homes, GPs, pharmacies and funeral directors – where they cannot source PPE elsewhere. That planning just cannot be done unless we have the security of knowing when the next PPE delivery will arrive.
“The response locally has been tremendous, as it always is. Educational establishments, like the University of Reading, Leighton Park School and Reading College, have stepped forward, as has the local business community. Central Government now needs to step up and provide both clarity and certainty on PPE supplies, and to increase the supply of equipment, to ensure the right PPE reaches the right staff and the staff of healthcare partners, at the right time.”
Notes To Editor:
PPE equipment has been donated to the Council by the following local businesses so far:
Skin Laser Removals
Cocoon Hair and Beauty
Electric Lady Tattoos
Cunning Fox Tattoos
Claire Williams Beauty
Rivermead Leisure Centre
Leighton Park School
Town Farm Butchers Shop
Support coordinating PPE collection has arranged for the Council by:
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