Letter to Helen Whately, Minister of State (Minister for Care) at the Department of Health and Social Care

03 April 2020

Dear Minister,

As the Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing – the largest professional body and trade union for nursing staff in the world, with 450,000 members – I am writing to ask that you do everything possible to support our health and care teams working in care homes and our communities to comply with recently announced guidance. Our members are on the frontline – they visit patients in their own homes, care homes, hospices and other social care settings, supporting them with what are often complex conditions in close proximity.

In the UK care home network alone, more than 19,000 care homes provide care to over 270,000 residents. We have welcomed the clarity provided by updated IPC guidance on when and how personal protective equipment should be used in order to keep both staff and patients safe. We were heartened to see the recommendations and advice from the government on infection prevention measures ensured that it was extended to support health care teams in the community, including care homes.

However, our members working in care homes and other social care settings are reporting that they do not have sufficient or clinically adequate supplies of PPE, or to antigen testing. This means that they are risking their own lives and the lives of their families as well as the lives of people in their care. This is unacceptable and must be resolved immediately.

The UK government has been clear that millions more PPE items are being made available and that national supply is well stocked, but our members in care homes are not seeing these commitments reflected in their reality. Distribution of PPE to care homes and the wider social care sector must be resolved so that they are supported to follow guidance that has been released.

We have also heard concern from our members regarding the support they will receive to plan care, including potential resuscitation or CPR, in line with best clinical practice, and to exercise their professional judgement in line with the nursing code of practice. It is paramount that employers and commissioners support nursing staff to maintain best practice, and ask that you promote this at every opportunity.

We stand ready to work with you to make sure that our members, all staff and residents of care homes are protected during this time.

Yours sincerely,
Dame Donna Kinnair
Chief Executive & General Secretary

Page last updated - 10/07/2020