Care system in danger of coronavirus collapse, says GMB

Elliot Chappell

GMB has warned that the care system is in danger of “total collapse” due to the coronavirus health crisis and has issued five demands to the government to support care workers.

In a call made today, the trade union told the government that thousands of key workers supporting the most vulnerable people in society are working with “little or no personal protective equipment”.

The organisation also highlighted that, if they become ill, the care workers face a choice between continuing to go to work or having to survive on statutory sick pay of £94.25 per week.

The five demands made by GMB to prevent the collapse of the care system are:

  1. Full pay for all social care workers in self-isolation or sick due Covid-19 and for the Government to underwrite any employers who can’t afford it;
  2. Paid time off to care for children when there is no other option available;
  3. Priority PPE, gloves, masks, and sanitiser making sure that our members are protected while they protect our loved ones;
  4. Priority testing for all social care workers; and
  5. Safe staffing levels to allow for all staff to provide safe care and to have adequate breaks to avoid burnout.

Care lead at GMB Kelly Andrews said: “Our care system is in danger of total collapse during the coronavirus crisis. Our carers are distraught that they have to work with little or no PPE and, horrifyingly, are being told that if a resident tests positive then they cannot return home.

“Despite being on the frontline, and utterly vital to stop our society from crumbling, they are on minimum wage, with unpaid breaks and are unable to rely on schools for childcare.

“And to rub salt in the wound, if they become ill they either have to try and support their families on poverty sick pay – or turn up to work ill which could be a death sentence for residents.

“GMB is demanding all care providers pay full pay for all staff during this outbreak to allow peace of mind to those vital staff that care for everyone else before themselves.”

The NHS has also been experiencing shortages of PPE for its staff, and the government has seen calls from NHS trusts, as well as from organisations such as the Royal College of Nurses and the Doctors’ Association UK among others.

The Guardian has reported that a number of workers in the health service have threatened to quit if the government fails to provide them with the required equipment.

Speaking in the coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock told reporters that he would “strain every sinew” to ensure that NHS staff have the equipment that they need.

There are currently a total of 8,077 recorded cases of the virus in the UK and 422 deaths. The highest number of cases has been found in London where there are 2,872 recorded instances of Covid-19.

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