PRESS RELEASE: Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesperson Zöe Franklin calls for support package for frontline workers

April 21, 2020 12:31 PM

Surgeons in operating theatreAlongside her Liberal Democrat parliamentary colleagues, local Lib Dem Spokesperson Zöe Franklin has called for a five-point 'Frontline Support Package' to be put in place by the Government to ensure that frontline workers get the support and recognition they deserve as they get us through the coronavirus crisis.

The package (see notes to editors for further details), includes measures to scale up the procurement of PPE as well as a frontline service reward. This would recognise the risks our frontline workers are taking throughout this crisis, just as the Operational Allowance does for Armed Forces personnel deployed to dangerous areas.

Zöe Franklin explained, "Day after day several million key workers are risking their lives to protect others. At the forefront of this are NHS and care staff who work long hours in our hospitals, care homes, hospices and wider health and care sector. It is crucial that these coronavirus heroes are properly protected.

"The top priority for frontline staff is protection. We should never ask our military to risk their lives without the proper kit, and we shouldn't be leaving health and care workers without sufficient protective kit either. It is simply unacceptable that so many key workers do not have the equipment they need to protect them from coronavirus in the line of duty. Only this weekend we saw Surrey County Council issue an urgent plea to the public for help to produce PPE as local stocks are running low. The Government must do far more.

"When the country emerges from this crisis, we must also properly recognise those who were willing to serve and make a sacrifice, just as we do with military forces. The Lib Dems are calling on the Government to look at creating a frontline service reward, similar to the deployment allowance frontline troops receive. There are many low paid workers on the coronavirus frontline, and we must show our gratitude.

"Quietly, key workers on the frontline every day undertake acts of bravery both big and small, to save lives. Liberal Democrats want to ensure that they get the protection and support they need now - and get the recognition and thanks they deserve when the epidemic has passed."

ENDS

Notes to editors

The Frontline Support Package is as follows:

  1. Protection - PPE kit for all key workers NOW.
    Ministers have had since January to sort out proper protective equipment for frontline staff, yet still too many workers aren't getting safe protection. Bureaucracy is stopping manufacturers and importers getting more PPE to our NHS and social care staff. NHS procurement must be strengthened and Ministers should require delivery firms to support the army in their huge logistical effort to distribute kit.
  2. Practical help - food deliveries, accommodation & transport.
    With NHS and care staff working long hours and worried about their own families, they deserve extra help and support with the practical things in life, if and when they need it during the pandemic. So, for example, the government could partner with more hotels to offer accommodation to key workers who are self-isolating or who have vulnerable people in their own households.
  3. Frontline service reward - a new "frontline service reward" to recognise the risks frontline staff face.
    Just as military service personnel receive a deployment allowance of £29 per day on active duty, the same principle should apply to NHS and care staff putting themselves in danger during the coronavirus epidemic.
  4. Bereavement and funeral support
    The NHS has a "death in service" scheme - but it is not as generous as the military's and many key workers on the coronavirus frontline aren't eligible. Ministers must ensure every NHS and care worker becomes eligible. The Government should fund it - and Ministers must agree to pay for all the funerals of key workers who died trying to protect others from Covid 19.
  5. Coronavirus Service Medal
    All key workers on the coronavirus frontline should get recognition for the risks they have faced, with a new "Coronavirus Service Medal". They are playing a major role to keep our country safe and it should be properly and formally recognised.