An angry care home owner in North Wales fears staff at her two care homes will be forced to wear bin bags as aprons after being blocked from buying vital protective equipment by Public Health England.
Ceri Roberts, Managing Director of Cariad Care Homes, in Gwynedd, has told how she went online to buy PPE – Personal Protective Equipment – from two major suppliers only to be told they were only delivering to care homes in England.
Unless she manages to get hold of more PPE quickly, by the middle of next week the staff at the Bodawen home in Porthmadog and Plasgwyn in Criccieth which have 78 residents between them will have to wear black bin bags instead.
Ms Roberts a Board member of Care Forum Wales which represents over 450 private care providers across Wales, said she was “dumbfounded” by the news.
She said: “I tried to buy £550 worth of masks, gloves and aprons only to be offered a couple of boxes of gloves and some hairnets for £83.
“I couldn’t believe it that one part of the UK was being prioritised over the rest – are masks and aprons only for care staff in England?
“I was just dumbfounded to be told that they wouldn’t sell to care providers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“These are frightening times and my team are doing everything they can to keep the virus at bay because we know if it does get in it will have disastrous consequences.
“No matter how good your infection control is if it gets in it will be catastrophic because of the vulnerability of the people we are looking after.”
Cariad, which employs over 120 staff at its two nursing homes in Porthmadog and Criccieth, has managed to source a handful of aprons from a local food supplier and a consignment of advanced virustatic masks from a company on Anglesey at £20 each.
These have now been issued to staff and Ms Roberts said: “I had intended to keep them but my staff are so worried about the situation that I have handed them out and they provide 150 hours use each.
“But the situation with aprons is critical and we could run out very soon so we have been looking at using black bin bags and I think it may come to that – that’s how desperate we are.
“It seems to have all been about the NHS and they’re doing an amazing job but social care staff are on the front line as well.
“We haven’t run out of aprons yet but we will have by the middle of next week and we have already looked at using bin bags and it could come to that. We could have to improvise with them.”
The Chair of Care Forum Wales, Mario Kreft, MBE, has also expressed his horror at the news and he said: “Speaking on behalf of the care providers of Wales this is a shocking and quite appalling indictment of the system for procuring these vitally important supplies.
“How it can be that such a situation has arisen at a time of national crisis is beyond belief.
“Someone in Government needs to take urgent action to rectify this unacceptable situation – aren’t we all in this together?”