Great Britain

Lack of surgical gowns for medics ‘a disaster in waiting’, say NHS bosses

FRONTLINE NHS staff are running out of surgical gowns to treat coronavirus patients, leaked documents reveal.

The lack of  personal protective equipment (PPE) is “a disaster in waiting for staff health”, alarmed NHS bosses said.

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It's not known when a new batch of the crucial equipment will arrive, two secret NHS memos seen by the Guardian say.

NHS leaders in London emailed about the shortfall on Thursday evening are said to be “alarmed” at the shortage of gowns.

And a letter to intensive care nurses at the Royal Free Hospital in London warns them “we will no doubt run out of items over the weekend”.

The Royal Free's intensive care unit (ICU) is one of the largest in the UK and is at the forefront of the NHS fight against coronavirus.

PPE SHAMBLES

The alarming shortfall comes after the death of a senior doctor who wrote to Boris Johnson warning of the need for 'urgent' PPE in the fight against Covid-19.

At least 20 NHS staff have now died after contracting the deadly bug, with Downing Street under pressure to ramp up PPE supplies for hospital and care home workers.

The email to NHS bosses in London read: “There are no immediate stocks of gowns due in the national supply chain over the next few days and we are unsighted on when further deliveries will be made.”

Gowns are a crucial requirement for staff treating Covid-19 patients.

Some of those infected are placed on and off ventilators or have to be resuscitated, increasing the risk of nurses and doctors catching the virus.

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A hospital chief executive said: “There simply aren’t enough gowns in hospitals going into Easter weekend, despite there being thousands of patients in intensive care units and other areas of hospitals with Covid-19, and we are going to have to cover the guts of a week with no new gowns.

"This is a disaster in waiting for staff health."

The Government has been under constant pressure to ensure that PPE is dished out to frontline NHS workers.

A senior doctor said that medics felt like "cannon fodder" and "lambs to the slaughter" as they deal with covid-19 patients in wards.

While doctors and nurses have been snapped wearing rubbish bags around the bodies and mouths as makeshift PPE.

Other medics are said to have bought scrubs on Amazon or had friends knit them protective kit.

Yesterday, Britain's death toll climbed to almost 8,000, after 881 more deaths in 24 hours.

Positive cases in the UK have also hit 65,077 - up from 60,733 infections yesterday.

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Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, 53, a senior consultant in the Urology department at Romford Queen Elizabeth Hospital, has died after contracting the disease, it was revealed this week.

Dr Chowdhury had last month written to the PM, appealing for urgent action on personal protective equipment for "each and every" NHS worker in the UK.

This week, it was revealed nurses are still being forced to share personal protective equipment, reuse masks or buy their own, MPs have been told.

The chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Dame Donna Kinnair wrote to MPs demanding nurses in all healthcare settings are protected.

A spokesman for No10 said today that over 600 million tems of PPE have been sent to hospitals all over the country - 30million were sent out yesterday alone.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said repeatedly there are no problems with supply levels, but they are working on ensuring proper distribution.

A Downing Street spokesman said ministers are "confident" that PPE was reaching the NHS frontline.

The spokesman said: "We're confident that enough supply is now reaching the front line, but if there are distribution problems as we deal with very significant increase in demand then we need to address them straight away."

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