Letter to Secretary of State Matt Hancock from the LGA and ADASS

A joint letter from the Local Government Association (LGA) and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) to the Secretary of State regarding PPE provision for the adult social care sector.

The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

Department of Health and Social Care 

27 March 2020

Dear Secretary of State,

Urgent: PPE provision for the adult social care sector

We are writing jointly from the LGA and ADASS to stress the urgent need for Government to move faster in making PPE available for the adult social care sector. Sufficient supplies that are of acceptable quality are needed immediately. Councils and their provider partners also need concrete assurances about ongoing supplies for the days and weeks ahead.

As the Government recognises, social care is at the frontline of responding to the unique challenges posed by Covid-19 and the workforce is doing an incredible job in extremely testing circumstances. It is also doing a dangerous job, with colleagues putting themselves, their families and their communities at risk. Ensuring their safety must be the number one priority alongside the safety of those they are supporting.

Despite welcome recognition from Government of the importance of PPE, we continue to receive daily reports from colleagues that essential supplies are not getting through to the social care frontline. Furthermore, national reporting that equipment has been delivered to providers on the CQC registered list does not tally with colleagues’ experience on the ground.

Of equal concern, there is a notable lack of confidence in national planning for, and provision of, PPE for the thousands of people who work in non-regulated services, such as personal assistants. The advice they are being given is to contact their local council. To be absolutely clear, councils do not have stocks of PPE equipment to distribute.

Finally, the PPE that is supplied must be of acceptable quality and there must be guidance as to its provision and proper use. We have been sent pictures of PPE that is used, dirty and damaged. This cannot and will not be used. The guidance that we know is in development cannot come soon enough.

We know that in these extraordinary times, Government and Whitehall – like their partners in councils – are working at breakneck speed and around the clock to resolve the critical operational issues that are preventing the most timely and effective response to Covid-19. However, we would be failing those we represent if we did not raise these issues with such severity and urgency. We therefore urge the Government to:

• make an urgent statement on the immediate provision of PPE to social care and the thousands of workers who work in regulated and non-regulated services

• make a further statement on its plans to ensure the ongoing provision of quality PPE for the days and weeks ahead

• ensure the forthcoming guidance on PPE is published without any further delay

• make adequate supplies of PPE available through Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) to ensure: councils can quickly address any local social care supply chain issues; and LRFs have capacity to deal with supply problems for other key frontline workers, such as the police, mental health colleagues and homeless outreach workers

These are first order priorities as colleagues continue to go to work each day to help keep people safe and well and relieve pressure on the NHS. We know the coming weeks are set to be even more challenging. Our level of preparedness must be the best it can if we are to support our residents and minimise the impact of this devastating disease.

Yours Sincerely,

Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman, Local Government Association

Julie Ogley, President, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services