Letter to Helen Whatley MP, Care Minister from Sue Ryder's Chief Executive, Heidi Travis, regarding access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Ms Helen Whateley MP
Department of Health and Social Care
39 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0EU
1 May 2020
As you have recognised, the social care sector including hospices is vital in supporting the country and the NHS in fighting coronavirus.
However, we can only do this if we have sufficient PPE to protect our hard working and dedicated staff, and to prevent infection amongst the vulnerable people we care for.
For over eight weeks now we have been urgently trying to source PPE after our normal suppliers could no longer fulfil the orders we were placing. To this end we have tried new suppliers - some of whom have supplied us with PPE of insufficient quality and some of whom have massively hiked prices - and consistently liaised with your department and the NHS at a national level to try to source adequate PPE. At a local level we have also worked with our Local Resilience Forums and explored every local network to try to source PPE.
Despite the commitments on PPE made in the Social Care Action Plan for Covid, published on 15 April 2020, we have seen little to no improvement in the situation. Indeed, the only PPE we have in stock now has been sourced on a small scale basis from independent suppliers.
We currently have no confidence that if we needed a significant amount of PPE to help deal with an outbreak that we would receive it. Indeed one of our hospices got down to 11 pairs of gloves after last weekend and we are now at a point where we may need to close services to new patients due to inadequate levels of PPE.
I urge you to take action to free up the supply chain and ensure social care providers such as ourselves receive a reliable and consistent supply of PPE so that we are able to continue providing our much needed care, and play our part in the fight against coronavirus.
I look forward to hearing from you.