EPSU Press Release (Brussels, 28 January 2021) Today the European Parliament will hold an important hearing to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on residential institutions. An investigation into the failure to protect both workers and users of residential care services must be part of these discussions. The hearing coincides with the publication of the European Commission green paper on ageing, which came out yesterday.
There is mounting evidence from several countries that a large proportion of Covid-19 infections and deaths have occurred in residential services for older people, persons with disabilities and other social service facilities. The World Health Organisation indicated that half of the Covid-19 related deaths in the first wave of the pandemic in Europe occurred in residential care and support service facilities.
Workers on the frontline of the fight against Covid-19 have been left exposed by a lack of personal protective equipment, testing kits, training, and safety protocols. Now that the vaccine is slowly being deployed, there is evidence that social service workers are not being considered as frontline workers in several countries, such as Finland and Austria, putting patients and families at risk once again. It is unacceptable that the weakest in society are not considered a priority by European governments.
Jan Willem Goudriaan, EPSU General Secretary stated: "The European Parliament is starting to take stock of the pandemic in different committees. EPSU reiterates the call for the European Parliament to use its full power to investigate the cause of the level of deaths and lack of capacity of care services, to ensure that the lessons are learnt, and future tragedies are prevented."
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