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Social Care: Personal Protective Equipment

Volume 675: debated on Tuesday 5 May 2020

What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of personal protective equipment for the social care workforce. (902190)

What steps his Department is taking to ensure the adequate supply of personal protective equipment to (a) the NHS and (b) social care facilities. (902200)

What steps his Department is taking to ensure the adequate supply of personal protective equipment to (a) the NHS and (b) social care facilities. (902204)

I would first like to place on record my thanks to everyone on the frontline, be they in a hospital or in social care, as well as those in less obvious places such as my community nurses, pharmacists and others who are working ceaselessly on the frontline. We are working round the clock to ensure that everyone across the NHS and care sector has the personal protective equipment that they need. To date, we have delivered more than 1.11 billion items of PPE. We are ensuring that PPE is delivered as quickly as possible to those on the frontline. We have delivered to over 58,000 health and care organisations, and we are working closely with industry, social care providers, the NHS, NHS Supply Chain and the Army to ensure that all our NHS and care staff can get the protection they need.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but given how care homes have become a tragic focus in this pandemic, with so many staff and residents losing their lives, when will she be able to guarantee that every care home will have all the PPE they need? And why is the Clipper system, which is meant to supply PPE to the care sector, now one month late?

Every NHS and social care worker must have the protective equipment that they need. Clipper has been rolled out, and it is important that it is able to deliver the products that are ordered online. This is now being rolled out to more than 1,500 general practices and care home providers, and as it is piloted and stood up to more and more individual organisations, that will help that stream of work to ensure that people have the personal protective equipment they need. That is on top of the national supply disruption response—NSDR—line that people can ring in case of emergency, and this is also backed up by the wholesale distributors, where only last week 52 million more items were placed on that line as well.

Across Redcar and Cleveland, we have fantastic businesses such as Pendraken Miniatures and BC-FX, which have switched their manufacturing lines to making visors, the Materials Processing Institute, which has switched to making hundreds of bottles of hand sanitiser for Marie Curie nurses every week, and 15-year-old Daniel Sillett, who is using his 3D printer to make PPE for local care facilities such as Marske Hall. Will the Minister join me in commending those businesses and individuals as part of our national effort in overcoming this crisis?

I would indeed like to join my hon. Friend in congratulating them, and I congratulate him on the way he has just explained that this is the most enormous national effort, from large-scale businesses down to individuals such as Daniel, to whom we must give our special thanks. This national effort—the way in which individuals and businesses have stepped forward, and the many offers from all the different suppliers—has been extraordinary. We are working with industry partners across the piece to make PPE. We are working with Ineos and Diageo to produce hand and hygiene products and to ensure that we get these to the frontline, using services such as Clipper. Thanks to the work we have already seen, we have seen novel products arrive on the frontline. Seven companies have now been contracted in the UK to make over 25 million items of PPE and to send some 6 million square metres of fabric to NHS Supply Chain.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Jacob Young), I have local initiatives—including Scrubs for Stoke and the Heywood Academy—that have produced amazing amounts of PPE for our local health care sector. Can the Minister inform us what steps she is taking to ensure that staff in care homes—[Inaudible.]and to enable people to make optimal use of PPE and minimise the transfer of infection from one client to the next?

I would like to pay tribute to businesses in my hon. Friend’s area. I think the crux of his question was about making sure that people are receiving the appropriate infection control training in order to utilise PPE effectively. We publish guidance—including videos, which are easier to watch and immediately understand—on the appropriate PPE for health and careworkers, based on clinical expertise. The guidance has been written and reviewed by all four UK public health bodies and informed by NHS infection prevention and control experts. It is consistent with World Health Organisation—

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I have listened carefully to the Minister’s answers, but on the ground there are still serious problems. Maria, who is a careworker in the north-east, told me on Friday that she has only just received face masks and has to wear the same ones throughout the day. Kenzie in Leeds told me exactly the same thing: one mask, all day, even though one of the elderly ladies she cares for has coronavirus and cannot help coughing and spitting on her mask. With almost 8,000 deaths in care homes so far, what changes will the Minister make and what will she do differently to get a grip of this problem, which is still increasing, to help bring this terrible death rate down?

As I said, there are the three strands of guidance on making sure that the appropriate equipment is used in the appropriate place. We have also used the local resilience forums in order to ensure that individual care organisations can have a back-up of personal protective equipment so that people can use it in line with clinical guidance. I will contact the hon. Lady after this session, because I would like to ensure that the young lady she spoke about has seen that guidance, and the videos that accompany it, in order to make sure that she feels properly protected, which is the aim that we are all working for.