Havering council has asked local nail bars, beauty salons and tattoo artists to donate protective equipment (PPE) for staff dealing with possible coronavirus patients, saying a national shortage has created a “care crisis”.
Council leader Damian White said: “Demand is growing and the need is urgent.”
The council issued the plea amid concerns over reported PPE shortages for frontline staff.
Unison, which represents hospital staff, paramedics and other frontline workers, said yesterday that, “there are still many workers who have little or no PPE at all.”
Havering Council has asked businesses to either donate equipment – like masks and gloves – or to sell it at cost price.
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Cllr White said: “This is an urgent call to our businesses using PPE, as part of our borough’s joint response to a care crisis caused by this awful virus.”
Services have been overwhelmed by coronavirus. London Ambulance Service (LAS) has seen “unprecedented” demand. March 16 was its busiest day ever, with nearly 8,000 calls to 999.
LAS did not comment on reports that large numbers of paramedics are self-isolating with symptoms. Both LAS and NHS England refused to release LAS’s sickness figures.
But LAS confirmed it had called in help from other regions to cover its calls. It has been announced that firefighters will be drafted in to drive ambulances and collect bodies. The Fire Brigades Union said the move “reflects the scale of the national crisis”.
But firefighter numbers are also depleted. By March 20, the London Fire Brigade had almost 300 firefighters – roughly five per cent of its workforce – in self-isolation, said the FBU.
In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Unison wrote: “Unison will continue to work with you to tackle this unprecedented crisis and ensure public service employees can continue to work safely. But we can only do this if all public service workers can be assured they’re not putting themselves, their family members or those they care for and support at risk through a lack of necessary protective equipment.”
*Havering Council urged businesses with PPE to email [email protected], listing what they possessed.