'Real risk' over PPE in North West due to failings

carers put on personal protective equipment Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Liverpool City Council has ordered two million face masks and 50,000 protective visors

North West political leaders have criticised the government over failings to protect healthcare workers in the coronavirus pandemic.

Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram said the government response had been "really, really poor" after the city council spent £1.7m on PPE.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham described the provision of essential PPE as a "hand-to-mouth" operation.

The Department of Health has been approached for comment.

Mr Rotheram said: "We knew [the pandemic] was going to happen and yet we've made such a mess of it as a country and I think the government has got really serious questions to answer.

"They've not done everything that they should have done on the timescales that they should have done it."

Liverpool City Council has ordered two million face masks and 50,000 protective visors.

They will be distributed to those working in care homes and other front-line services by the Merseyside Resilience Forum (MRF) of councils, emergency services and other partners.

Lancashire County Council's opposition leader, Azhar Ali, accused the government of "playing Russian roulette with care workers' lives" by not providing sufficient PPE equipment, the Local Democracy Reporting Service says.

The authority has spent £2m on its own supplies.

Mr Ali said he had written to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for the prime minister, asking for efforts to support front-line care workers to be stepped up.

Mr Burnham described the provision of essential protective equipment as a "hand-to-mouth" operation, adding there was a "real risk" that care homes in Greater Manchester would run out of supplies.

He said a delivery arrived two days late and only contained a tenth of the masks and aprons authorities expected.

The leader of Warrington Borough Council claims areas in the south of the UK have been given priority over the north in the distribution of the equipment.

Russ Bowden said the authority was forced to make a public appeal last week for masks, aprons and sanitiser, because it has been unable to get enough from official sources.

"I don't see a great deal of evidence that the distribution is being done fairly," he said.

"Priority inevitably seems to be elsewhere geographically."

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