Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The continued lack of PPE is a national scandal and the government’s litany of broken promises over the last month is shameful.
“The public is looking on aghast as brave doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are risking their lives to provide care to very sick patients – yet, they don’t have the necessary protection to carry out their roles.
“Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock needs to sort out the logjam in PPE supplies urgently, otherwise he may have to consider his position as this situation can’t continue, as health professionals would be quite right to decline to put themselves in danger.
“This would go against every instinct in their body and every tenet of their professional training, but already the public is very alarmed at the rising toll of NHS staff who have died due to coronavirus as they have battled the pandemic.
“We are not just talking about NHS staff in hospitals, but those working in the community, such as health visitors and community nurses, and those employed in social care settings, such as care homes.
“Unite has already advised its 100,000 members that reluctantly NHS and social care staff could legitimately and lawfully decline to put themselves in further danger and risk of injury at work. Unite will continue to stoutly defend the NHS and social care staff.”