Second letter to Sarah Albon, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Executive

17 April 2020
Dear Ms. Albon,

Thank you for your response dated 1 April 2020.

Regrettably I feel compelled to write to you again regarding the government’s continuing failure to provide sufficient and suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) to our members in all health care settings. Our members tell us they simply cannot obtain enough equipment, as evidenced in our latest survey findings.

As I am sure you are aware, the number of mortalities of health and social care staff is steadily increasing and I am very concerned that the Secretary of State for Health publicly stated during the Select Committee on the 17 April 2020 that employers should investigate these deaths and not your organisation. Have you been consulted about this and is there an exemption to the RIDDOR process in relation to these deaths? I would query the veracity and independence of any investigation devolved to the organisation in which it occurred rather than yourselves.

I note you have been working with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Public Health England (PHE), the NHS and all government departments regarding the supply chain issues impacting on the availability of PPE. However, it appears a number of employers are still not able to provide suitable and sufficient PPE as the supply chain remains defective and in practice this is meaning our members are working at risk.

In this context we remain deeply concerned and request that you provide advice to employers who are without the necessary equipment required to protect their staff. This letter is a formal request for HSE’s intervention and enforcement to prevent further unnecessary harm.

We also understand that in order to circumvent the lack of disposable gowns specifically, guidance may be adapted to accommodate this lack of resource. You will be aware this disregards all current WHO and HSE infection control guidance. We also request information of any advice given on infection control guidance and on alternatives to PPE when the items are not available.

While I am confident you are taking the issues presented by this pandemic seriously, I feel the actions of the Health & Safety Executive to date have not been visible enough directly with employers to protect all health and social care staff. I implore your organisation to intervene immediately.

Yours sincerely,
Dame Donna Kinnair
Chief Executive & General Secretary

Page last updated - 10/07/2020