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Testing of NHS and Social Care Staff

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:55 pm on 24th June 2020.

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Photo of Abena Oppong-Asare Abena Oppong-Asare Labour, Erith and Thamesmead 5:55 pm, 24th June 2020

I start by paying tribute to all the amazing NHS and social care staff who have continued working throughout this crisis, putting themselves and their loved ones at risk. Sadly, we know that at least 300 NHS and social care staff have died from covid-19. Although we have stopped clapping every Thursday, we should not forget the sacrifice and the contribution that they have made to protect us all throughout this crisis. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my constituent Esther Akinsanya, a nurse who died from covid.

Covid-19 has put the NHS under unprecedented strain at a time when demand for health and care services was already at an all-time high. Millions of operations, treatments and appointments have been cancelled. One constituent, a member of the Association of Disabled People, told me that they had had 17 appointments postponed until 2021 and that the impacts on their long- term health would be detrimental. Another constituent, from Bexley, contacted me concerned that their routine cancer check-up had been cancelled and they had not been informed of when it would be rescheduled. The Government’s slow response on testing and PPE has put at risk not just thousands of NHS and social care staff but members of the public who have had to have their appointments cancelled.

It is essential that our NHS services can resume safely, but for this to happen we need regional testing for NHS and social care staff. We need a plan to test, trace and isolate people with suspected covid-19, and access to adequate PPE, including preparation for the potential for a second spike in the virus.