PPE 'tsar' - government heeds Unite's calls but not a minute more to waste, says McCluskey
- Sunday 19 April 2020
Unite the union has today (Sunday) welcomed the appointment of a `tsar' to coordinate the manufacture and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The union has long called for such a figure to be appointed to address the chronic shortages in the provision of the vital safety materials urgently needed by NHS and social care workers in particular.
Matt Hancock, health secretary, appointed Lord Deighton to the position of PPE 'tsar' following a weekend of shocking claims that NHS staff were being advised to re-use their safety kit and that shipments of new materials were being delayed. Lord Deighton was the chief planner on the 2012 London Olympics.
Welcoming the appointment, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "Unite called for a minister for PPE and testing to be appointed weeks ago.
"It may have taken the government a while to heed our calls but Unite is relieved that they are eventually understanding that the country needs this key appointment at this time of crisis.
"Unite has been working with manufacturers the length and breadth of the country to coordinate the mass manufacturing drive needed to provide the safety kit our frontline staff need in order to stay safe.
"There is a huge amount of dedication in the army that we're proud to have helped build but as we have long said, this is a volunteer army without a general.
"With the appointment of Lord Deighton, I sincerely hope that the shortcomings in PPE supply of recent weeks can be rapidly overcome so that our workers can feel that they are being cared for while they care for us. It is quite clear from the distressing reports of NHS staff going without the equipment that they need that there is not a minute more to be wasted.
"Unite still wants to see a cabinet-level appointee for testing too. The government has to get that right in order to give working people the confidence that this deadly virus has been brought under control. I urge them to heed this call also."
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