Today, the House of Commons held the first remote participation session for Members of Parliament, for the first time in its history. It was also a special day for the Labour Party as it was the first Prime Ministers Question with Keir Starmer as the new leader.
Keir had an impressive debut and did an excellent job on holding the government to account with the forensic detail he is known for. He highlighted the unprecedented challenge our health service is currently facing and urged the government to take the necessary steps to protect our frontline staff with the appropriate PPE and testing.
Like many constituents who have written to me, I am deeply concerned by reports that some staff are being asked to treat coronavirus patients without the necessary equipment. Both the Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association have been clear that without adequate PPE, the lives of doctors and nurses are being put at risk – as well as those of their patients, colleagues, and loved ones.
The Government has rightly said that the NHS will get whatever resources it needs to deal with this pandemic. The same priority and focus should apply to care providers. Many people in the charity and voluntary sector are also working in public facing roles in health and social care settings.
My thoughts continue to be with the families of workers who have died from coronavirus while caring for others. Given the increased risks at this time, I believe that death in service benefits should be extended and apply to all NHS employees, volunteers and retired staff who are returning.
As a former care and social care worker myself, I urge the government to listen to these concerns and take the steps necessary to protect our frontline staff.
Janet Daby MP
Member of Parliament for Lewisham East
Shadow Minister for Faiths