Majority of health workers say government has failed to protect them from coronavirus

16 April 2020, 00:01

More than 70 per cent of healthcare workers do not think the government has done enough
More than 70 per cent of healthcare workers do not think the government has done enough. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

More than 70 per cent of healthcare workers feel the government has not done enough to protect them from coronavirus, a new survey has found.

When asked whether the government had done enough to protect workers - including nurses, midwives, and doctors - against Covid-19, through methods such as providing sufficient personal protective equipment and testing, 72 per cent said it had not.

It also showed that the number rose to eight out of 10 when London healthcare workers were asked. The capital has seen a large number of coronavirus cases.

The poll of 996 UK healthcare workers - a joint project between YouGov and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) - also found a third thought their health had suffered as a result of battling against the pandemic.

One in three also believed the crisis had caused their physical health to deteriorate, according to the study. This was most commonly reported by doctors and nurses.

A separate poll revealed 96 per cent of the general public supported further interventions to protect health and care professionals.

Harry Quilter-Pinner, head of IPPR's better health and care programme, said: "Our heroic health and care staff are risking their own lives on a daily basis in order to save ours, but they cannot do this if they get sick themselves.

"The government must act now to ensure they have all the protective equipment they need to do their job properly and safely.

"There is a particular problem in the social care system where there are severe shortages of protective and testing equipment.

"For too long social care has been an afterthought. Care workers are risking their lives just like NHS staff. At this time of crisis, we must finally deliver parity of esteem between our health and care systems."

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But the Government spokesperson said they were working around the clock to provide the NHS and social care sector with PPE.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are working around the clock to give the NHS and the wider social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this global outbreak.

“Since the start of the outbreak, we’ve delivered over 923 million pieces of PPE to the frontline and have published clear guidance setting out the safest levels of PPE to protect healthcare workers in different settings, in line with WHO advice.

“We are also working closely with Public Health England to monitor the impact on care homes. We have now tested over 50,000 NHS staff or members of their household and are working hard to increase testing capacity across the social care sector.”