Some of the equipment donated by Greenwich borough businesses and schools (photo:

The leader of Greenwich Council has warned that London’s boroughs need proper protective equipment to deal with the coronavirus outbreak – and cannot keep depending on the public to donate items such as masks and sanitisers.

Danny Thorpe made a public appeal on social media on Thursday evening after a promised delivery of PPE equipment for social care staff did not arrive. He received some donations, but had to ask again the following day after the items failed to turn up.

The items are needed by social care staff who work alongside NHS staff in hospitals to free up beds by moving vulnerable patients who do not need urgent attention into care homes.

While there has been much attention on the work of NHS staff during the Covid-19 emergency, social care workers, who are also on the front line of the crisis, are the responsibility of the boroughs. Leaders in Ealing and Waltham Forest have also called for swifter action.

Thanks to @BritishArmy for delivering much-needed #COVID19 protective equipment for our front-line staff. 😷
More is needed though, so please do get in touch if you can help!

— Royal Borough of Greenwich (@Royal_Greenwich) March 29, 2020

Greenwich Council tweeted on Sunday that the items had arrived – but said that more was required. In particular, FFP3 masks, aprons, gloves and eye protection are needed.

We cannot run the adult social care system in London based on donations from residents and businesses,” Thorpe told BBC London yesterday.

“It’s absolutely essential that our supply chains move quickly to help us move patients through the system.”

In Bexley, Daniel Francis, the leader of the borough’s Labour opposition, said it was facing the same issue. Both boroughs’ staff work at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich to help free up beds there. “[We’re] unable to discharge patients from hospital & risk to staff, as not adequate PPE for care workers & social workers. Government needs to urgently address this issue,” he tweeted.

Ealing Council’s leader Julian Bell told the BBC his borough had only been given two days’ supply and he had also launched a public appeal. “We’ve been struggling to make sure that we’ve got sufficient [supply] for everybody. We need 100,000 gloves a week,” he said.

Waltham Forest’s leader Clare Coghill tweeted: “This cannot wait – we need to see very swift progress on this. Our councils’ and communities’ response has been great right across London and the government need to match this.”

Yesterday afternoon, the local government secretary Robert Jenrick told the government’s daily press conference about the crisis: “We simply cannot and should not ask people to be on the frontline without the right protective equipment. To NHS and social care workers, all those who rely on this equipment, and to their families and loved ones watching this afternoon. We understand and we will not stop until we have got you the equipment you need.”

According to Sunday’s figures from Public Health England, 168 people have diagnosed with coronavirus in Greenwich borough, with 218 in Lewisham and 119 in Bexley.

BBC London video supplied by arrangement with BBC Local News Partnerships.


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