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Health and social care workers must be given enhanced PPE, campaigners demand on International Workers’ Memorial Day

EVERY health and social care worker must be given enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, campaigners demanded on International Workers’ Memorial Day today. 

Doctors in Unite called for all staff in the sector to be issued with respiratory protective equipment — a higher quality version of standard PPE — during a commemorative event at the National Covid Memorial Wall in central London.

Tory Health Secretary Sajid Javid has resisted the move, despite the deaths of more than 2,000 infected health and social care workers to date, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Doctors in Unite chairwoman Dr Jackie Applebee said: “The tragic loss of so many is compounded by the fact that many of these deaths were unnecessary. We will never know how many.

“It is self-evident that airborne infections need special protective equipment.”

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe blasted the “intolerable situation.”

He said: “We will not rest until our colleagues are given the respect they deserve and the protections they need to safely carry out their jobs.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson confirmed that ministers would continue to provide free PPE to workers in the sector until March 2023.

The union marked today’s annual commemoration by calling on councils across Britain to back its new Get Me Home Safely campaign.

The initiative – endorsed by the Welsh Assembly – was inspired by the experience of a young female Unite member who was attacked on her journey home from a late-night shift after bosses reneged on a promise to provide a taxi. 

The union urged local authorities nationwide to follow the lead of East Dunbartonshire Council near Glasgow, which has made it a requirement of licensing that all hospitality firms in the area facilitate safe transport for their staff working late. 

Health and safety legislation must also be changed to ensure that bosses conduct assessments of the provisions in place to protect such employees, Unite said.

General secretary Sharon Graham said: “Workers — young women, mainly — are being put at tremendous risk when trying to get home at night. This is frankly disgusting.

“No worker should be placed in a dangerous situation because profits come first and public transport has been cut to the bone.

“Employers and councils need to own this.”

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