South Shields MP slams the Government over delay in easing self-isolation rules for health workers
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has slammed the Government for not being quicker to ease isolation restrictions for health workers as South Tyneside services faced huge pressures amid some of the highest recorded infection rates in the country.
Employers raised concerns that a ‘pingdemic’ combination of high case rates and surging numbers of self-isolating workers in the area could stymie its economy and hinder the delivery of key public services.
Ms Lewell-Buck had prepared a letter addressed to the new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, highlighting the extent of the challenges facing the borough’s healthcare service.
Her draft letter to Mr Javid requested double-vaccinated healthcare staff be made exempt from self-isolation, as the area’s healthcare trust becomes increasingly overburdened.
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The draft missive read: “There are increasing concerns about the NHS becoming rapidly overwhelmed due to staffing shortages caused by the increased demand to isolate.”
The Government has now announced it will scrap isolation for double-jabbed health workers, while also reversing a previous decision to exempt Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak from quarantine.
But Ms Lewell-Buck slated Ministers for being slow to act on the issue.
She told The Gazette: "The Government ignored repeated calls to act on this last week, as usual, they were slow to make their decision.
"As usual they failed to listen to those on the frontline. As a result our exhausted NHS staff have spent days worried and stretched to their limit.
"Worry that turned to anger when they saw the behaviour of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor this weekend trying to worm their way out of self-isolation by claiming they were part of some random pilot. Both of them shame their office.”
Sunderland and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust refused to disclose the number of staff forced to self-isolate when approached by The Gazette last week.
"Isolation requirements for our NHS heroes have overwhelmed our NHS in recent days,” Mrs Lewell-Buck added in a Twitter post.