Coronavirus: Councillor defends claims of failing to provide suitable protective gear at Brighton care home after confirmed case

Source: Paul Gillett

A Brighton and Hove councillor is defending claims that there is a lack of suitable personal protective equipment for Brighton care home staff after at least one confirmed case of Covid-19 on the premises.

On Wednesday (April, 2), the GMB union said numerous workers at Craven Vale in Brighton informed them that they were seriously concerned for their own safety, and that of the remaining residents, after they discovered a third case of coronavirus.

But yesterday (Thursday, 3), the Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board for Brighton and Hove Council said there was only one confirmed case of the virus at the care home.

In a statement, Councillor Clare Moonan said:

“We have no information at present about a second or third case of Covid-19 at Craven Vale. 

“There is only one confirmed case we are aware of and that person is being isolated within the centre. 

“It’s quite possible there may be other clients who may have some symptoms but nothing is confirmed at present.” 

Union reps said they were also informed that there was a lack of suitable, satisfactory PPE, and drew attention to the fact that procedures like restricting movement of staff and residents in and out of the building were being ignored.

Cllr Moonan continued to reject the union’s claims, adding:

“Staff at Craven Vale have access to all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) according to NHS guidance. 

“We are working through the Sussex Resilience Forum and NHS to source ongoing supplies.

“If anyone has concerns, they should approach their manager as soon as possible.

“Social distancing measures are being implemented across all care homes and we are following national guidance on infection control.”

Cllr Moonan went on to say that no issues had in fact been raised with the managers at Craven Vale, but the council will listen to any concerns raised by staff or union reps.

The first of multiple briefing meetings was due to take place yesterday (Thursday, 2), where Moonan said they would welcome staff raising issues with them.

The council said they also offered a specific meeting with GMB and UNISON on the situation at Craven Vale and are flexible in making sure these meetings can take place at a time convenient with everyone.

Cllr Moonan did however call for the government to step up testing and levels of PPE for all care home staff.

On Wednesday, Mark Turner GMB Branch Secretary said:

“Clearly in this case the Council are failing in their duty of care and responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

“Even as recently as yesterday, BHCC Chief Exec Geoff Raw and the Council’s Head of HR brushed over the issues raised by us relating to this workplace.  

“Inadequate PPE still today remains a serious issue, despite cast iron assurances by council officers when the matter was raised.

“Just how neglectful are these same council officers allowed to be towards both GMB members and the residents at Craven Vale before someone steps in?”

Turner also said that union members suggested the centre was shut down while the council carried out a deep clean and organised the correct PPE.

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