6.44am EDT 06:44 A “giant of a man” and “father figure” to police officers on the Isle of Man has died after he contracted Covid-19. Retired sergeant Richard Lloyd, 57, died in hospital on Saturday and was the second death on the island from the virus. A married father-of-one, Lloyd had strong connections with Merseyside
Confusion persists over whether employees can be forced by their bosses to take holidays while on the government’s furlough scheme.
One worker contacted the Guardian to complain their employer was spending official furlough money to cover wages now and also using it to pay down holiday entitlement that would otherwise be payable later in the year.
John Bowers QC, a barrister specialising in employment law, told the Guardian: “There is a split in the legal profession as to whether employees on furlough can be required to take part of their leave. Both government guidance and Acas guidance is ambiguous on this (perhaps deliberately) but this makes it difficult for employers to handle this.”
One law service published online advice stating: “You could insist employees take their holiday entitlement … so that when you get busier again your staff are there to support income generation rather than taking their holidays”.
The solicitors Farrer & Co agreed the situation was unclear but said: “Our preliminary view is that, unless and until we have guidance to the contrary, it seems employees can be required to take holiday during furlough and the pay they receive during this time will depend on whether employees are receiving furlough pay or topping up.”
The Guardian attempted to clarify the confusion. The Treasury press office redirected the inquiry to HM Revenue and Customs which, in turn, insisted it was a matter that for the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department.
BEIS stated that it was a Treasury responsibility.
A third of UK surgeons and surgical trainees do not believe they have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in their trust, with wide regional variations, a survey has found.
More than half of those who responded (57%) to the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) of England survey said there have been shortages in the past 30 days.
The survey of nearly 2,000 surgeons and trainees showed a postcode lottery when it comes to PPE. More than half (52%) of respondents in the Thames Valley said they now have access to adequate PPE, but that dropped to just over a third (34.7%) in the North West.
In London, which has been at the heart of the outbreak in the UK, a third (33.4%) of respondents said they do not believe their trust has an adequate supply of PPE.
The survey was carried out after improved PPE guidance was issued by NHS England at the beginning of April
Sue Hill, RCS vice-president, said:
The guidance is now much improved, but we have consistently said that advice about what protection to use for which medical procedures is rendered meaningless if the kit doesn’t reach the front line.
More than half of those responding to the survey also expressed scepticism about their chances of getting a Covid-19 test for themselves, should they need one.
Confidence was particularly low in the East of England, where 75% of surgeons said they believed they would not get access to a test.
One surgeon, who responded to the survey said:
The lack of mask wearing in general patient contact has been scandalous. I caught Covid-19 from a patient on the ward who was pre-symptomatic but later tested positive. He infected at least six staff. One of my colleagues remains very sick from this.
I was denied a test even on appeal. We were ‘spoken to’ for wearing simple masks and gloves in general ward areas. We agreed to submit to authority but strongly disagreed that there was no risk.
The RCS is urging its members not to risk their health, and that of their patients, by carrying out risky procedures without adequate PPE.
UK could have worst death rate in Europe