At 11 am today, a minute’s silence will be held to remember those that have died during the coronavirus outbreak.
A campaign for the national silence was launched last week by the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Nursing which represent more than a million NHS and public service workers.
In a video message released this morning on International Worker’s memorial day, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that as the nation observed a minute’s silence for those that have died, “we must continue to fight for those on the frontline to protect their lives”.
Starmer said that “Nobody should put their lives at risk because they haven’t got the right protective equipment” adding “We owe it to them to make sure they’ve got the right equipment, in the right place, at the right time and we will continue to press on that”.
Last week, a survey by The Royal College of Physicians of 2,129 hospital doctors, found that 26.5% of medics reported being unable to access the protective equipment they need for managing COVID patients.
Today the Trades Union Congress (TUC) , an umbrella group for unions in the UK called upon the government to do more to protect those on the frontline.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said Britain will “forever be in debt” to the workers who have died during this pandemic.
O’Grady criticised ministers for the handling of the crisis and demanded an enquiry, she said;
“The lack of protective equipment for frontline workers during this crisis is a grotesque failure by ministers. We demand a public inquiry into why government allowed workers to keep working without the right equipment to keep them safe”.
Yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that families of NHS workers and social carers who die from coronavirus would receive a £60,000 payment.
Labour’s Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders MP welcomed the announcement and said;
“It is welcome that the Government has listened to workforce representatives and ensured that death in service benefits are available to everyone working in the NHS and social care sector.”
He added “..the Government must finally get a grip over PPE supplies so that NHS and care staff aren’t putting their lives on the line to do their job and protect the rest of us.”
82 NHS staff are known to have died after testing positive for COVID-19.