Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services
This statement is to tell you about the work we are doing to support our social care workforce in the current context of COVID-19. Members will be well aware that the country is now in the delay phase of tackling this outbreak and collective efforts are underway to ensure the safety of all people, especially those most vulnerable to this disease. Part of this work is ensuring a supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is readily available and distributed for use in social care settings across the whole of Wales.
I am aware of the concerns about the availability and level of PPE required. In the majority of cases, standard PPE is appropriate for social care settings. PPE will be needed for social care staff who are providing direct care to people in their own homes, or in care homes who are suspected or confirmed as having COVID-19, according to the current definition for community cases.
I want to be clear about the guidelines for the use of PPE in social care. If neither the care worker nor the individual receiving care and support is symptomatic, then no PPE is required above and beyond normal good hygiene practices. It is really important that all staff use the correct PPE, when providing direct care to anyone with respiratory symptoms that could be due to COVID-19, including high fever and a persistent cough.
If PPE stock cannot be accessed and while we are preparing to distribute PPE stock to local authorities, we have made arrangements that care providers can approach local health boards for urgent assistance. These arrangements should only be utilised if a case of COVID-19 has been confirmed.
The distribution of PPE stock will be co-ordinated by NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (NWSSP) who will distribute the supply to Joint Equipment Stores/Community Equipment Stores (JES) that service local authorities. Any requests for stock will be managed by the authority in conjunction with the JES and the care provider.
We are working with NHS Shared Services and local authorities to issue this stock at the earliest opportunity. Alongside this we will work with local authorities to issue guidance for care providers on how to request access to PPE stock when the need arises.
All services are advised to keep up to date with the latest advice on COVID-19 via the Public Health Wales (PHW) website.
I have attached a copy of a letter from the Director of Social Services on this matter.