The Rhondda AM has called for more PPE designed specifically for women to become available.
Leanne Wood said it was vital that women in the NHS and care settings had protective clothing that fitted properly and protected them from contracting coronavirus. Proper fitting equipment would also protect patients and care home residents from transmission of the virus.
The NHS in Wales is the largest employer in the country, with a workforce in excess of 80,000. Women represent nearly 77% of this total. It is believed that a higher proportion of staff working in care homes are women – Social Care Wales estimate it to be 83% of the workforce.
A report from the TUC found that PPE was seldom designed with women in mind and as result was often ill-fitting. The report stated: ‘A 2016 survey conducted by a number of organisations, including the trade union Prospect and the TUC showed that 57% of those women who took part found that their PPE sometimes or significantly hampered their work. This is not surprising as most PPE is based on the sizes and characteristics of male populations from certain countries in Europe and the United States.’
Leanne said it was time that PPE was designed with women in mind. “We have already seen figures showing that working class women are more likely to contract corona virus in Wales,” said Ms Wood.
“I would not be surprised to see the same pattern repeated across the world. We are asking women to put their lives on the line in the NHS and in care settings for the good of society and we cannot even provide them with PPE – or when we do, it is not the right size.
“Women have different body shapes to men. Even masks designed for the average man’s head are unlikely to be a good fit. Not only will PPE designed for men be uncomfortable for most women to wear but it will not provide the protection it is designed for.”
Leanne added: “This is a scandal within the scandal of PPE scarcity. Women should not be exposed to a fatal virus without the appropriate gear to protect themselves. I am calling on the Welsh Government to not just source more PPE but also source PPE that is designed specifically for women. If it is not available, we must look into ways to manufacturing it domestically.
“Until we do this, we are asking women to protect and care for others while leaving themselves exposed to a killer virus. That is wholly unacceptable.”
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