Promises of protective equipment alone won’t keep people safe

Promises of personal protective equipment (PPE) alone won’t keep NHS, care, police and other essential workers safe, says UNISON today (Tuesday) as the union urges the Prime Minister to ensure all staff get the protection they need.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis has written to Boris Johnson demanding he takes action to ensure all hospitals, care homes, police forces and council services have the sanitiser, gowns, masks and gloves needed to keep staff safe.

In Scotland, UNISON Scotland has today raised these issues with the Cabinet Secretary for Economy & Fair Work and Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government and will pursue them at a Fair Work in Care meeting with Scottish Government officials on Wednesday.

While supplies of PPE have clearly got through to parts of the UK’s public services, UNISON is concerned there are still many workers who have little or no PPE at all.

Demanding an urgent call with the Prime Minister, Dave Prentis says in the letter: “Public service workers are particularly affected as they seek to keep the country running, ensure our loved ones are cared for and our communities are clean and safe.

“As you have repeatedly said, the value of public service workers has never been clearer. UNISON is demanding you provide them with protection, as they seek to protect us all.

“Public service employees are still in their workplaces because they need and want to be. But their selfless acts must not place them at risk.

“Too many feel like they’ve been forgotten – their safety a mere afterthought, despite the critical work they continue to do.

“Many promises have been made by your government, but promises don’t protect people. Every public service worker without adequate PPE is a potential spreader of this deadly virus, or even a future patient.

“Every public service worker who catches the virus is another vital cog removed from the machinery of a society already struggling to cope.

“UNISON will continue to work with you to tackle this unprecedented crisis and ensure public service employees can continue to work safely.

“But we can only do this if all public service workers can be assured they’re not putting themselves, their family members or those they care for and support at risk through a lack of necessary protective equipment.”

UNISON is setting up a hotline to allow public service workers to share their concerns about PPE, so the critical issues can be raised with ministers.

Notes to editors:
- UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

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