By Local Democracy Reporter
THE MP for Thurrock has sought to reassure the public that frontline NHS workers do have enough protective equipment to carry out their jobs safely.
Jackie Doyle-Price said she had discussed the issue with NHS officials and she has been advised that there are “sufficient supplies” available.
It comes after reports emerged on Friday that NHS bosses were asking doctors and nurses to work without protective full-length gowns when treating Covid-19 patients, as hospitals came within hours of running out of supplies.
Speaking at the government press conference on Saturday, local government secretary Robert Jenrick, also admitted more needed to be done to get personal protective equipment to the frontline.
A shipment of equipment, including gowns, was supposed to arrive in the UK from Turkey on Sunday but the government admitted it has been delayed.
Government data shows the 27 frontline healthcare workers across the country have died from the virus.
“If there are specific items we are short of I will take steps to make sure that they are sourced,” the MP said.
“I am advised by the NHS that they have sufficient supplies. To date the Government have arranged the supply of one billion items to the front line.
“This is a global pandemic and the issue of PPE is a challenge for health services across the world.
“The anxiety about adequate protection is perfectly understandable and Public Health have issued guidance for use which will ensure that people are adequately provided for and that will make the most of the supplies.”
She added that the government had taken steps to ensure there is a steadier supply of equipment and “the public can be reassured that every effort is being made to keep people safe”.
But Labour Councillor Victoria Holloway, who chairs the council’s health overview and scrutiny committee, said the comments show the MP does not have a “grip of reality”.
“We are aware some supplies are getting through however it is not enough and it is not frequent enough and it is not protecting every NHS staff member and it is not protecting staff in care homes.
“This blanket statement saying they have enough is shocking and she should be speaking to the healthcare staff who are coming to us as councillors.
“I believe them, I don’t believe what she is saying.”
Ms Holloway along with Thurrock’s Labour Group Leader Councillor Jane Pothecary have written to Ms Doyle-Price and MP Stephen Metcalfe to urge them to hold the government to account over the issue and to ensure all frontline staff have sufficient equipment to keep them safe.