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Desperate need for personal protective equipment

Nik Hartley OBE, Chief Executive of SIA, has written to Matt Hancock (Secretary of State for Health and Social Care) and Helen Whately (Minister for Care) on behalf of the many members of the spinal cord injury (SCI) community who’ve contacted SIA to express their grave concerns about the lack of availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for their carers.

At a time when the whole country is quite rightly being asked to take all reasonable measures to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, SIA has been horrified to hear that some of the most vulnerable people in the UK are being looked after by trained carers who aren’t being issued with, or can’t obtain, PPE.  This equipment has become a critical element in the care of SCI people, and it must be made available immediately so that SCI people can be cared for safely and minimise the risk of contracting Coronavirus.

SIA is very concerned that the distribution of PPE to community nurses and carers is far too slow, and also that SCI individuals in receipt of a Social Care Direct Payment or NHS Continuing Healthcare Personal Health Budget who directly employ their own care and support staff (and don’t use an agency registered with the Care Quality Commission) have received little or no guidance on how they can access this potentially life-saving equipment.

Based on these concerns, we have asked for confirmation of the following:

  • What specific arrangements have been put in place so that individuals who employ their own care and support staff can quickly and easily access the necessary and appropriate PPE?
  • How long will it be before all carers in the UK have ongoing access to PPE, including the FFP3 face masks that offer the greatest degree of protection?
  • What steps are being taken to ensure that sufficient supplies of PPE remain available to all frontline staff, including those working in people’s homes, throughout the Coronavirus epidemic?

We have also reminded Mr Hancock and Mrs Whately that SIA has redeployed its entire staff of SCI Nurse Specialists, advocates and support network teams to build a platform of information, advocacy and support services for SCI people. We remain totally committed to working with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, our corporate partners and the wider SCI community to ensure that SCI people, their families and their carers are fully informed and supported throughout the Coronavirus epidemic.

Click here to visit our dedicated Coronavirus pages and find out how we are providing information, advocacy and support through a range of services. If you need help, call our Support Line on 0800 980 0501, Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm.