NHS medics threaten to quit over safety concerns as doctor slams ‘inadequate’ protection


NHS medics working across the UK fighting the coronavirus pandemic could be forced to ‘quit the profession’ they love if the government fails to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for those heading into a ‘warzone’ as the ‘tsunami’ of the illness hits.

Many health professionals are being forced to wear the ‘same scrubs for the entire day’ and say they feel ‘abandoned’ by the government due to the lack of PPE they have been given.

One NHS worker identified only as Lorraine, revealed her manager had sent staff a message the day before asking them to share masks, as well as filters.

‘Now filters have got bacteria in them, masks have got bacteria in them, these things do not get sterilised like you would your operating equipment,’ she said.

This is while one cardiologist at a major London teaching hospital has today claimed that the government is not following the recommendations set out by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr Lisa Anderson said doctors working on coronavirus wards are ‘taking risks’ when it comes to their own health due to the ‘inadequate’ protection they are being provided with. 

A paramedic is seen above without any protective equipment, while doctors and nurses are seen behind him with the facemask and scrubs

Speaking on Good Morning Britain today Lorraine added: ‘We are going into a war zone. This is definitely something I hope we will never have to experience… ever again. But if we do I would hope that we are more prepared.

‘We are frightened, of course we’re frightened, but we’re still walking through those doors.

‘Because this is why we came into this job, as nurses and as doctors and as healthcare workers, porters, cleaning staff, staff to make sure we are fed and watered.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain today Lorraine added: 'We are going into a war zone'

Speaking on Good Morning Britain today Lorraine added: ‘We are going into a war zone’

‘These people are not shying away. None of us are shying away from this.

‘But I cannot understand why I had to, and my colleagues had to, receive that message yesterday when we are just going into this tsunami.’

Elsewhere Dr Rinesh Parmar, chair of the Doctor’s Association UK told the Guardian that if doctors feel there is no longer adequate PPE equipment, then they will have ‘no choice’ but to ‘give up the profession they love’. 

It comes after the government announced it would be opening a new hospital at the ExCel centre in London to help deal with the outbreak. 

Dr Lisa Anderson (pictured above) said she has to wear the same scrubs every day

Dr Lisa Anderson (pictured above) said she has to wear the same scrubs every day

The government also announced it would be looking for over 250,000 new volunteers to help with the outbreak. The recruitment drive has since been undermined by doctors and nurses already working, as they claim they are still being expected to take ‘unacceptable risks’.

Doctors across the country have become ‘anxious’ about the shortage of PPE and with current staff members already highlighting the shortage, it adds to the unease around how the government will supply volunteers and the new London hospital with PPE.

One doctor said she has an immuno-comprised husband and that she was putting his life at risk everyday, she added that is this issue with PPE was ‘not sorted soon then I’m off’.

Another said that without PPE the work force would be ‘decimated’ and questioned who would look after the sick if they were not working.

One added: ‘I feel abandoned, we don’t have the PPE we desperately need.’

Dr Rinesh Parmar (pictured above) said people could walk out of the profession they love if a shortage of equipment continues

Dr Rinesh Parmar (pictured above) said people could walk out of the profession they love if a shortage of equipment continues 

So far in the UK there have been 424 deaths and 8,077 confirmed cases of Covid-19. London has been hit hardest by the virus and there have been 143 deaths in the capital and 2,189 confirmed cases. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today Dr Lisa Anderson said as well as doing her usual job as a cardiology professional, she is also helping out on the coronavirus wards.

‘Patients I saw yesterday are coughing they are covered in sweat and I am wearing the same blues throughout the day, there’s a real shortage of blues and you need to wear the same ones for the entire day. 

‘I have got patients sweat on there, there is nothing I can do, I then go and see my other patients.

A member of the ambulance service wearing personal protective equipment is seen leading a patient (unseen) into an ambulance at St Thomas' Hospital in London on March 24, 2020

A member of the ambulance service wearing personal protective equipment is seen leading a patient (unseen) into an ambulance at St Thomas’ Hospital in London on March 24, 2020

‘We are just desperately discharging our patients, to get them out of the hospital the covid negative ones, and I’m discharging them not just to their own homes but to nursing homes, rehab centres and prisons, the ramifications for this are huge.’ 

She added that one of the biggest challenges health workers are facing at the moment is that the ‘government’s guidelines are not in line with the WHO’s’.

‘The WHO recommendations for most Covid patients are a full gown, visa mask and gloves, we are sent in equipped with short gloves, a little plastic apron and a surgical face mask, it’s completely inadequate. 

‘We were told by our virologist yesterday that on our Covid wards due to the turnover of the air that the virus is in the air all the time that we should try and wear some kind of visas. We have no visas, it is not government guidance for us to have visas.’

Dr Anderson said the government is ‘going out on a limb and putting health workers at risk’. 

‘We know that in Italy when they didn’t have enough PPE that 10 per cent of the entire work force are infected. That is a risk that is far too great to take, this is not a trivial disease.’

Dr Parmar added that health professionals are not being given the PPE recommended by the WHO.

‘That’s the travesty of this situation that the government needs to protect front line health workers and in return they will give 100 per cent.

‘But the government hasn’t kept its side of the bargain with the NHS staff by not having enough PPE available to safeguard the health of doctors and nurses’.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We are working around the clock to give the social care sector and wider-NHS the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak.

‘We have delivered millions more items of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff at care homes, home care providers and hospices as well as to hospitals, ambulance trusts, GP practices and pharmacists.

‘The full weight of the Government is behind this effort and we are working closely with industry, social care providers, the NHS, and the army to ensure the right equipment continues to be delivered.’

 

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