UNITE national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said yesterday that ‘Pressures on our ambulance members are unprecedented, with the profession not currently being given the correct guidance as to whom they should take to hospital.
‘They are also not being given the correct level of personal protective equipment (PPE) if they suspect a patient has Covid-19.
‘Ambulance workers are putting their health, perhaps their lives, at risk, by not receiving the correct PPE and also by not receiving the correct fit test training to wear the PPE.
‘On top of this, the lack of testing remains a stark and very serious issue – there are not enough tests to ensure ambulance staff are tested within the five-day window for testing.
‘Unite is urgently calling for ambulance workers to be given clear guidance regarding triaging which patients should be taken to hospital, and more action on PPE which needs to be supplied to paramedics, so they are able to do their essential duties.
‘Paramedics are terrified of making the wrong call and being sanctioned for this.
‘I think the public’s patience with ministers is wearing very thin as they continue to say that there is enough PPE in the system, when there are numerous reports from frontline staff that this is simply not the case.
‘It is humbling to see social media posts which show some NHS and social care staff risking their lives as they go to care for patients with coronavirus. The situation is even more dire in social care settings, as care staff do their utmost for the elderly with inadequate protective kit.
‘Unite has thousands of members who are part of the healthcare science workforce. These talented staff need to be engaged to provide the test that is required to ensure 100,000 people can be tested a day.
‘Unite has over 100,000 members in the health and social care services and we will not rest until we ensure that all health and social care workers are secure in their individual roles in keeping us all safe and well – we are campaigning for that goal 24/7.
‘If these objectives are not met and NHS staff continue not to be protected, reluctantly NHS and social care staff could legitimately and lawfully decline to put themselves in further danger and risk of injury at work. Unite will defend NHS and social care staff.’