Key public service workers are short of vital equipment despite 2018 assessment of a 'very high' risk of pandemic influenza by Local Resilience Forum.
An appeal for supplies of crucial personal protective equipment (PPE) has been launched in Eastleigh as part of a county-wide initiative to help protect key public service workers who are working to maintain essential services for the community during the coronavirus crisis.
Councils in Hampshire, including Eastleigh, the emergency services and utility companies plan and coordinate the local response to large scale emergencies as members of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum (LRF).
In a risk assessment matrix published in July 2018 the forum determined that there was a ‘very high’ risk of pandemic influenza and that there was a ‘medium high’ likelihood that it would have a ‘significant’ impact on the county.
Despite this prescient evaluation, there is nevertheless a shortage of the vital, basic equipment needed to keep workers safe and the LRF is asking businesses and residents for their help in donating any spare PPE they have to help safeguard those who:
- Distribute food and medicine to the most vulnerable
- Respond to police, fire and ambulance emergencies
- Maintain refuse collections
- Support homeless people and make visits to sheltered housing schemes
- Support front-line NHS workers
Eastleigh Borough Council say that the following items are in short supply and are needed to ensure key workers stay healthy and able to carry out their duties.
- Disposable plastic aprons or gowns
- Nitrile gloves
- Tyvex suits
- Eye protection: surgical mask with integrated visor; full face shield/visor; polycarbonate safety spectacles or equivalent
- Face masks: water repellent surgical masks, FFP3 respirators
- Alcohol hand gel (60% minimum alcohol content)
- Cleaning wipes – with high alcohol content
Many workers at Eastleigh Borough Council are represented by the UNISON trade union. Uniosn General Secretary Dave Prentis has written to the Prime Minister demanding action to ensure all hospitals, care homes, police forces and council services have enough hand sanitiser, gowns, masks and gloves to keep staff safe.
In his letter Mr Prentis said:
“Public service workers are particularly affected as they seek to keep the country running, ensure our loved ones are cared for and our communities are clean and safe.’
Mr Prentis warned:
“Every public service worker without adequate PPE is a potential spreader of this deadly virus, or even a future patient.
Every public service worker who catches the virus is another vital cog removed from the machinery of a society already struggling to cope.”
Any residents or businesses who are able to donate items should contact:
Eastleigh News asked the Local Resilience Forum why there was a shortage of protective equipment for workers given that an influenza epidemic was considered to be likely.
In response Temporary Superintendent George White of Hampshire Constabulary, Chair of the Hampshire Tactical Coordinating Group, said:
“Partners across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are working together to provide a coordinated response to COVID-19.
We continue to future plan to ensure Hampshire and Isle of Wight continues to have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect the key workers such as Social Care Workers, Care workers and other front-line staff who are delivering much needed services on a daily basis.
We are asking for donations from businesses should they have any spare stock available to share. While there are stocks currently available, it is not known how long the current crisis will remain and it is sensible to plan now for the future to enable us to continue to safely support our communities during this difficult time.”