Mental health PPE and testing concerns must be addressed

22 April 2020

Responding to the Royal College of Psychiatrist's member survey findings, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said:

"These findings give great cause for concern. For trust leaders nothing is more important than ensuring their staff have the personal protection equipment they need when they need it and access to staff testing.

"Over the last few weeks, there has been much focus on the acute sector. Mental health, community and ambulance leaders told us that it took too long for national leaders to recognise their needs and that a 'prioritise hospitals alone' mentality took time to shift.

"That’s why we welcome Royal College of Psychiatrist's report which stresses the importance of government ensuring mental health services receive access to PPE and testing kits.

"More widely, we agree that the mental health estate is not fit for purpose which makes it difficult to reduce risk of transmission of the disease. In our briefing published last week, we highlighted that there’s been a particular challenge for mental health trusts with patients who are held in secure accommodation, where the flexibility to reconfigure physical space may be much more difficult.

"However mental health trusts have taken steps to ensure their inpatient services are equipped to care for those seriously ill with COVID-19 such as through cohorting patients and discharging those medically fit where safe to do so to reduce risk of transmission.

"Frontline staff, across acute, mental health, community and ambulance sectors, as well as across the wider health and care system, are working extremely hard to keep people safe during this extremely challenging and unprecedented time."

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