BHTA appeals to Government to include the medical device and assistive technologies sectors as “key workers”

In light of the news that school closures have already started, the BHTA has appealed to government to clarify the definition of “key workers”, and to include the medical device and assistive technology sector. BHTA has today written to DHSC, MHCLG, NHS England and Local Government to urgently seek greater clarity.

The healthcare industries provide services which will be vital as the NHS comes under ever greater pressure. Beds will need to be released as quickly as possible and patients returned to their own homes where they can be kept safe and allowed to live independently. Members of our association are likewise involved in manufacturing key medical products and deliver services such as decontamination of medical devices.

Some members companies of the Association have identified that up to 40% of their service/production work force would have difficulty in continuing to attend to work which will then have a severe impact on their ability to continue to deliver these services to the NHS.

Clarity is also sought over what are deemed essential products and services. Products in this sector range from profiling beds needed urgently by hospitals, through to stoma and urology devices needed by patients both in hospital and at home, and to items such as stairlifts, bathlifts, and wheelchairs. It is vital that these continue to be delivered, installed, decontaminated, and repaired, for the safe care of patients in hospitals and care homes, and the safety of very vulnerable members of the public in their own homes.

Manufacturers, suppliers and service providers are all putting appropriate measures in place to keep their staff and their customers safe, but will need assistance, if key staff have had to self-isolate, in determining whether they can resume their duties. Extension of testing to this sector will help immeasurably in ensuring continuity of supply to the NHS and to vulnerable people, as will an assurance that they will be able to access protective garments such as masks to enable them to fulfil their duties.

Dr Simon Festing

CEO – British Healthcare Trades Association

email: bhta@bhta.com