Why these five issues?
The #ProtectNHSworkers campaign began in April. As the second wave of COVID-19 escalates, we are re-launching our campaign with renewed energy to protect healthcare workers this winter.
1. Priority access to testing:
Priority COVID-19 testing for healthcare workers will ensure no NHS worker is unduly removed from the workplace at this crucial time. Matt Hancock MP announced on the 21st of September that priority testing would be available for health and social care workers. However, it is unclear whether the guidance covers scenarios where a healthcare worker is isolating because their household member has symptoms. It must. Quick testing will return healthcare workers to their jobs fast. This is imperative for patients.
2. PPE Policy Emergency Review
Every single health and social care worker requires at minimum a mask, eye protection, long-sleeved gown and gloves for every single interaction with a patient with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. This is in line with World Health Organisation standards, which the UK has consistently failed to match throughout the pandemic. This policy needs to be reviewed as an emergency.
3. A fair death-in-service package
In April, the government announced a one off lump sum of £60k for families in the event of a health or social care worker dying of COVID-19 in the course of their duties. This doesn’t begin to compensate for the lifetime loss of earnings and financial security that a loved one could have provided. We must do better. A long-term package of financial support for the families of every single health and social care worker who has died must be created.
4. Fair sick pay and isolation pay
These are extraordinary times. Health and social care workers are exposed to COVID-19 every day. They must be provided with sick leave if they, or a household member, has symptoms or needs to isolate because of known exposure to COVID-19. This applies equally to permanent and temporary workers. We cannot place the burden of responsibility on individual workers who are being forced to expose themselves daily to COVID-19.
5. Accommodation to allow safe shielding
A centrally funded accommodation scheme is required. No one wants to risk bringing COVID-19 into their household. NHS staff members are exposed to COVID-19 every day, and many then go home and interact with vulnerable household members who should be shielding. A centrally-funded accommodation scheme is required to allow NHS staff to move out of their homes and protect their loved ones during the pandemic.