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A accumulation of key workers tasked with alteration acute Covid-19 samples amid hospitals say they accept been “left out in the cold” afterwards their employer appear they could be adverse back-up in the average of the pandemic.
Ten medical couriers who accept been alteration samples of the virus to and from hospitals in London for clandestine medical aggregation The Doctor’s Laboratory (TDL) accept been told they could lose their assignment in beneath than a month, and are afraid they will not be able to acquisition addition job during the crisis.
The apprenticed workers serve NHS hospitals through Hospital Services Limited, a affiliation amid TDL, and the University College London Hospitals and Royal Free London NHS Trusts, alteration the the Covid-19 samples through aerial body pedestrianised areas.
The accumulation claims they accept been affected to backpack out their roles with “minimum protection” while adage the attributes of their job has fabricated it absurd to socially ambit while working. The accommodation on redundancies is due afterwards a appointment actuality agitated out by the company.
The accumulation aloft the affair of bloom and assurance and a abridgement of PPE back they started their arrangement and were accustomed gloves, duke sanitiser and “makeshift” masks afterwards a week.
Alex Marshall, a TDL bagman and armchair of the IWGB union’s Couriers and Logistics Branch, told i: “We are key workers, administration the affair that’s acquired the crisis, and this is the acknowledgment we get.
“When this arrangement started, we beatific a letter to TDL about how our bloom and assurance wasn’t acceptable enough. We were told the PPE had been absent in Dover, and accustomed a lot of excuses. A anniversary later, we were accustomed 10 pairs of gloves and a little canteen of duke sanitiser and makeshift masks, but they don’t assure you from anything.”
The workers carriage and bear coronavirus analysis samples for appraisal (Photo: Getty)
Mr Marshall said the accumulation had asked to be activated for Covid-19 over apropos they could be overextension the virus while working, but affirmation the aggregation denied the request. “We are in and out of hospitals with samples of the coronavirus, bedfast to baby spaces with coronavirus patients and accessible people. We were told testing would accomplish little difference, admitting us seeing the accent of testing every day,” he said.
One courier, 64-year-old Terry Houlihan, who has basal bloom conditions, said he has resorted to applying for Universal Credit rather than accident his bloom at work: “I afresh suffered a stroke, accept aerial claret pressure, ambiguous diabetes and asthma, so I feel alarming alive in abutting adjacency to bodies adulterated with Covid-19, let abandoned accustomed it on my bike.
“I approached the aggregation about my apropos and all they did was acquaint me to ablution my easily and accumulate my distance. This is absurd in the job we do. I took the amenable accommodation to self-isolate, but the aggregation has done annihilation to abutment me. Instead, I’ve been larboard with no advantage but to administer for Universal Credit and board tax reduction,” he added.
TDL denies any couriers accept been placed at accident while at work. The company’s accommodation on redundancies is due afterwards a appointment has been agitated out by TDL. The IWGB abutment has issued a apprehension of bang election over the company’s back-up process, active from 13 to 27 May.
Mr Marshall said that while some curve of assignment for healthcare couriers accept been cut during the pandemic, such as alteration samples from GP surgeries because there are no best face-to face accessories with patients, there is still assignment accessible for couriers. “We were afresh broadcast account of abeyant NHS affairs ancestor aggregation Sonic Healthcare can bid for, which absolute an balance of £150m. That’s a lot of abeyant work,” he said. “I anguish the accommodation to accomplish us bombastic isn’t about money, it’s because we are articulate abutment members,” he alleged.
Labour MP Andy McDonald, adumbration Secretary of State for Employment Rights, has accounting to The Doctor’s Laboratory CEO David Byrne to claiming the “surprising and concerning” accommodation to accomplish the key workers bombastic afterwards he was contacted by their union, and said that no workers should be discriminated adjoin for abutment membership.
The letter addressed to the CEO of The Doctor’s Laboratory (Photo: Provided by source)
“This [decision] seems somewhat surprising, accustomed that these workers, as I accept it, accept formed throughout the Covid-19 crisis as key workers, including alteration abeyant Covid-19 samples,” the Mr McDonald wrote in the letter beatific on 11 May.
“I am abashed at what appears, on the base of the advice afore me, to be a abeyant contravention aperture of basal workers’ rights. During this time of civic crisis, we should of advance do all we can to assure and abutment anniversary other, including administration demography added accomplish to ensure the assurance of their employees. This is abnormally so in account of key workers who accept contributed to much… the accomplishments in this instance are neither what one could achievement for nor would expect.”
Mr Byrne alleged claims couriers accept been put at accident “inconceivable”, and said the proposed redundancies chase a abatement in appeal for sample transportation.
“It is extraordinary that we would advisedly betrayal any of our workforce, of whom our bagman agile is an important part, to disproportionate accident at any time but abnormally now. All our protocols are adjustable with accepted regulations, are kept beneath connected analysis and back they change, our protocols change with them,” he said.
“Like abounding organisations beyond the country, our laboratories accept accomplished a cogent abridgement in action over the accomplished months, which agency there is beneath appeal for sample transportation. Proposed redundancies are not a application anytime fabricated agilely alike in these aberrant affairs and a final accommodation will be not be fabricated until the abounding consultation, which is currently in progress, has been completed.”
The appointment action will achieve on 31 May.
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