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News Report Page 5 of 17
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Extension of Free PPE to Adult Social Care Sector

CARE England, who are the largest and most diverse representative body for independent providers of adult social care has welcomed the extension of the provision of free PPE to the health and care sector to 31 March 2023.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says:- "We are pleased that the Government has listened to Care England in extending the offer of free PPE. The sector is currently contending with a multitude of issues against a backdrop of outbreaks and rising infection levels, so this represents a welcome relief and will provide a real boost for the sector as we learn to live with covid. Most importantly, the continuation of free PPE will continue to help better protect some of society's most vulnerable."

The DHSC previously committed to providing free PPE to the sector until 31 March 2022 and launched a consultation in October 2021 on whether to extend this offer for a further year. Today, the Government's response to the consultation has been published.

Care England's response to the consultation highlighted that free PPE via a centralised mechanism had been an enormous win for Government and the potential return to a situation similar to March 2020, when there were huge challenges in accessing PPE, would be a retrograde step in the management of the ongoing Pandemic.

Martin Green continues:- "This is a positive step forward in the Government's response to aiding the sector, but this must be accompanied by further measures, including a comprehensive solution to the ongoing workforce pressures being felt by the sector. The adult social care workforce is our biggest resource and must be recognised and valued as such."

Merseyside factory making vital NHS Equipment is set to:- 'be shipped to Costa Rica'

TERUMO Europa NV, who has its Headquarters located in Leuven, Belgium, runs a factory in Knowsley, employing 110 people, making specialist cardiovascular and oncology equipment for the NHS. The firm's manufacturing plant in Kbowley, after 25 years, has told staff it will be closing, and moving operations to Costa Rica. Responding to the announcement, the GMB Union has said that they will now enter consultation talks with management to secure the best possible deal for members. Karen Lewis, GMB Organiser, in a statement sent to us, said:- "This is cost saving exercise to maximise profits while the people of Knowsley are left to pick up the pieces. These skilled workers kept the emergency services and NHS going throughout the lockdown. Now they get their jobs sent off shore to Costa Rica. Despite the Pandemic, this company made almost a million pounds last year. They can afford to give anyone who loses their job their rightful recompense."

Labour's Bill Esterson slams "pathetic" response after trying a 3rd time to get answer on Chinese made Covid tests

LABOUR'S Shadow Minister for Business and industry asked the Health Secretary why the UK Government are still refusing to support British manufacturers of Covid tests instead of importing millions of unreliable tests from abroad.

The question, asked in the House of Commons, is the 3rd time Mr Esterson has tried to secure an answer after the Prime Minister and Business Secretary were unable to provide an adequate explanation on previous occasions.

The exchange comes as it was revealed the UK is relying on Chinese suppliers for lateral flow testing kits because just 1 British manufacturer has been approved cleared for use in the UK. Last week, the Confederation of British Industry, British Retail Consortium and Federation of Small Businesses said business are being:- "held back" by a shortage of lateral flow tests and increased worker absences due to rising Omicron cases.

Commenting, Shadow Minister for Business and Industry said:- "I asked the Prime Minister and he didn't know. I asked the Business Secretary and he didn't care. Third time lucky and the Health Secretary didn't even try to answer. They would clearly rather buy Covid19 tests from China than from British manufacturers. The Government has given several Chinese-based manufacturers temporary approval to supply tests. Yet just one British company has been approved after a six month battle. When will the Conservatives finally start to back British businesses and give them the certainty they need?"

Bill Esterson added:- "I asked the Prime Minister and he didn't know. I asked the Business Secretary but he didn't seem to care. So, today is third time lucky. Why were 30 million British made Lateral Flow Tests sitting in a warehouse awaiting approval while Chinese tests were given temporary approval, all the while people couldn't get test kits from pharmacies or from Test and Trace. It took 6 months to give approval to Sure Screen Diagnostics. So when is this Government going to support British test manufacturers and end the preference for imports from China?"

Sajid Javid responded:- "Mr Speaker, I can give the honourable gentleman an answer and I'm very happy to do so. He will know that its right whenever we try to procure tests, in this case Lateral Flow Tests, we should always try to buy British 1st and we do buy from Sure Screen and they're a fantastic supplier. But he will also know that we can only buy Lateral Flow Tests rightly once they have been approved by our independent medical regulator."


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