Search

‘Supply your own’ - care workers hit by shortages of soap and hand gel

PUBLISHED: 06:20 24 March 2020

Care workers in Norfolk were told to 'supply your own' soap and hand gel by the county council. Pictured, someone washing their hands. People can help fight the spread of the coronavirus by continuing to regularly wash their hands with soap and water. Picture: Getty

Care workers in Norfolk were told to 'supply your own' soap and hand gel by the county council. Pictured, someone washing their hands. People can help fight the spread of the coronavirus by continuing to regularly wash their hands with soap and water. Picture: Getty

Getty

Healthcare workers were told by the council to provide their own soap and hand sanitiser due to shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), it has emerged.

Care workers visiting people in their homes who are self-isolating due to the coronavirus outbreak were asked to supply their own soap, wash their hands in cafes, and “visit shops regularly” to ensure a supply of products.

But county council bosses insisted that PPE shortages were a national problem but said they were “already seeing results” after supplies arrived at the weekend.

A spokesman said: “We are doing everything we can to ensure staff have the equipment they need to keep safe in their work.”

READ MORE: Ambulance service warns of hand gel shortage

A letter from the council’s head of HR, Derryth Wright, seen by this newspaper, stated that where contact with a person in self-isolation was critical, staff should use “pragmatic alternatives”.

Care workers were told to “supply your own soap rather than using the householders” and “advised to purchase paper towels, kitchen roll, or napkins”.

The letter, understood to have been sent to staff late last week, also advised care workers to “find somewhere to wash your hands such as public facilities, or a café”.

It said: “Colleagues can be asked to purchase directly from supermarkets, local shops or well known (trusted) on-line suppliers.

“You may need to visit shops regularly and often to check for availability and secure stock.”

READ MORE: Volunteers ‘disinfect’ town after visitors flock to coast

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said: “These are some of the appalling and worrying local consequences of this government’s failure to get a timely grip on so many of the absolute basics of responding to this pandemic. How have we ended up with workers who keep us safe having to put themselves at avoidable risk to do their jobs?”

Craig Chalmers, Norfolk County Council’s director of community social work, said: “The national shortage of protective equipment is well known, with the parts of the country that saw the earliest outbreaks initially receiving priority. The health of vulnerable clients is a top priority for us and our dedicated teams continue to provide critical services.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure frontline staff have the equipment they need to keep safe in their work. We’re already seeing the results of this, with our supplies bolstered b a delivery of a thousand bottles of hand sanitiser and a consignment of gloves just this weekend.”

He added: “In the interim we have provided practical guidance to our teams which included asking them to purchase supplies whenever and wherever they could, for which they would then be reimbursed to provide peace of mind to carers on the ground.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s very selfish’ - Health secretary blasts those ignoring social distancing advice

If you value what this gives you, please consider supporting our work. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.

Related articles

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Norwich Evening News