Leaked letter accuses Government of ‘shambolic’ handling of PPE with deliveries ‘paltry’ and ‘haphazard’

Deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE) were “paltry” and became “haphazard” as the coronavirus outbreak worsened, according to a leaked letter from social care bosses.

The letter to the Government from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass), seen by the BBC, also raises concerns about testing of care staff, shielding advice, and the national volunteer scheme.

Government handling of PPE for care workers has been “shambolic”, it reportedly says, while there have been contradictory messages from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on the shielding of the vulnerable.

According to the BBC, the letter states that “testing for care workers appears to be being rolled out without being given thought to who is going to be tested and what we are going to do with the result”.

And it raises concerns that the NHS national volunteer scheme may have “diverted 750,000 volunteers away from supporting local communities and left them with nothing to do for the first three weeks”.

Sam Monaghan, chief executive of Methodist Homes (MHA), said the letter contains “strong words but a fair and accurate analysis of the situation over the past few weeks”.

He said: “To date we have had 251 deaths across our 222 homes and schemes; only 57 of these were tested and confirmed as Covid-19. All others were recorded as suspected on the basis of residents presenting Covid-type symptoms.

“Each and every one of these deaths is devastating for families of residents and also for our colleagues who have been working tirelessly to both care for residents and also keep themselves safe.

“We can only speculate what a difference adequate levels of testing including contact tracing and ample, readily available supplies of PPE could have made.

“In time, no doubt many of these questions will be asked and answered as part of a public inquiry, but for now the immediate protection of lives is our priority along with the support of our staff.”

In response to the leak, an Adass spokesman said: “We know everybody is working tirelessly to try to make this as effective as they can be in the face of something that we have never faced before.

“It’s really important that the dynamics between local and national government are right.”

Chief executive of Barchester Healthcare care homes, Peter Calveley, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s announcement of a social care plan on Wednesday was “reassuring but the real problem will be delivering what he’s saying”.

Confirmed and suspected cases of coronavirus are in more than half of the company’s homes, he said.

He added that the Adass letter “represented the frustrations of all organisations” as “everyone is facing difficulties of supply, everyone is facing the difficulty of implementing the national guidance in a consistent way”.

“It is true that supply has been sporadic and patchy,” he said.

The DHSC has been approached for comment.

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