Government criticised over PPE supply for sector
By Rachel Lawler
The Alliance has criticised the government after confusion over access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for childcare providers.
Guidance on ‘implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings’ issued by the Department for Education (DfE) on 12 May, states that education, childcare and children’s social care settings and providers should use their local supply chains to obtain PPE, but that: “Where this is not possible, and there is unmet urgent need for PPE in order to operate safely, they may approach their nearest local resilience forum.”
However, guidance issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHLG) to local reiliance forums, who have been supplied with PPE by the government, does not include childcare providers on its list of organisations eligible to receive support.
While the DfE guidance states that PPE is not routinely required by childcare settings at this time, other than what is routinely required for intimate care, the guidance does also advise that staff will need to use PPE if a child starts to display symptoms while in their care.
Childcare providers across England have already reported that local resiliance forums had told them that they would be unable to supply them with PPE, despite the DfE guidance.
The Alliance contacted all the local resilience forums in England and were told by several that the Department for Education guidance was an error and that they were required to follow the guidance from the MHCLG.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “"Those childcare providers planning on reopening on 1 June are working incredibly hard to ensure that they are able to do so as safely as possible.
“The DfE’s own guidance states that if a child displays symptoms of coronavirus, early years practitioners will need to wear PPE, and yet the government has failed to provide a suitable system to ensure that providers are able to access the PPE they need to deliver care safely.
“It is simply unacceptable to leave childcare providers facing the prospect of having to reopen their doors without the necessary protective equipment. The government must act urgently to ensure that it delivers an appropriate system which can meet the demand for PPE within the sector.”