Harrow West MP criticises government response to coronavirus

The Government could have acted sooner and done more to support care and medical staff during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a Harrow MP.

Labour politician Gareth Thomas, who represents Harrow West, said there would be less pressure on the NHS had the Government implemented certain measures earlier.

These include encouraging as many people as possible to work from home, providing clear support for businesses and outlining lockdown rules that have been in place since March 24.

He said: “It would appear that social distancing measures were imposed later than they should have been, that many opportunities were missed to prepare the NHS in particular properly, with all the personal protection equipment necessary and the testing regime in place to help keep key workers safe.

“The lack of PPE and testing remains a significant problem, particularly in care homes, but across essential services and that is deeply worrying.

“Equally the support for those without work or trapped overseas is not as comprehensive as it could have been.”

He added that despite these “failures”, the work of those in his constituency and home borough has been exemplary.
“The staff at Northwick Park and across Harrow’s health services have done remarkable things while the courage and commitment of volunteers, supported by Harrow Council staff, to get food to the most vulnerable is testimony to the strength of our community,” he said.

Last week, a Northwick Park nurse said she had to use a plastic bag as protection and had a mask confiscated as she was moving to another ward.

She explained she had been denied a swab test for Covid-19 despite experiencing symptoms and said she and her colleagues had no choice but to continue working through the crisis.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock published a “three-strand plan” last week which, he said, will ensure those who need PPE can get it.
He said: “I will stop at nothing to protect those on the frontline who are fighting this virus.

“Our heroic health and care staff are working around the clock and my absolute priority is to support them. Our new online ordering tool for PPE is supported by a 24/7 national supply and logistics network.

“There is a herculean effort behind the scenes, supported by the military, to get the right kit to our frontline heroes.
“These new supply chains, matched with a call to arms for more businesses and organisations to join this national effort, will help save lives.”

And Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson after he was treated in intensive care for Covid-19, urged people to continue to follow advice around social distancing.

He praised the “overwhelming majority” of the country who obeyed these rules over the Easter weekend and said these efforts are “making all the difference” in the fight against the virus.

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