The GMB Trade Union is calling for all care home staff to have level 3 PPE that gives them better protection against Covid-19.
At present, most care staff wear standard surgical masks. But the GMB believes they may not protect them against the new variant of the virus, as very small airborne viral particles spread in care homes. Instead, we want all care staff to be given the kinds of high-grade face masks used in intensive care units, called FFP2 or FFP3 masks.
The UK guidance on infection prevention and control has recently been updated, but it allows individual providers to decide what PPE to use. As a result, some providers are offering staff high-grade PPE while many are not – and that is leading to unequal levels of protection depending on where carers work.
We are seeing the number of care home residents who are dying with Covid-19 increasing again at a time when there is routine testing available for staff. This of course raises questions about how the virus is transmitting within the care homes and we believe that inadequate PPE is the key to the increased transmission rates within care settings.
The GMB has written to the secretary of state [Matt Hancock] about PPE and the latest guidance for use in the sector and the question of supply. We believe the only way to ensure the protection of our members and implement the recommendations set out by SAGE is to immediately increase the PPE guidance to allow for all health and social care workforce to access level 3 PPE should they need it. We have repeatedly been assured that there are sufficient levels of PPE and we are calling on Government to use the supplies we have to protect the workers now.
All care home staff should have PPE that gives them better protection due to the more spreadable new variant in circulation. It’s the Government’s responsibility now to do everything in its power to protect these key workers and it’s now time to upgrade the PPE to project our care workers and the residents they look after.