Hospices running out of basic medical and cleaning supplies in fight against coronavirus

Hospices are urgently appealing for basic medical and cleaning supplies as an increasing number of palliative care providers warn they are running out of protective equipment in the fight against coronavirus.

Hospice UK has told ITV News they are "deeply concerned about the continuing difficulties that hospices are facing in accessing appropriate equipment".

The charity, which represents over 200 providers of end-of-life and palliative care in the UK, said it was "working with the NHS to try to resolve these supply issues as a matter of urgency”.

ITV News has found at least 20 hospices have launched urgent appeals in the last few days for donations of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as basic supplies such as soap, washing up liquid and hand sanitiser.

Hospices are lacking items such as hand sanitiser. Credit: PA

Heidi Travis, Chief Executive at Sue Ryder hospice, said an immediate solution was needed.

"Access to significant amounts of additional personal protective equipment is now critical," she said.

“As a result of Covid-19 we are expecting an increase in people needing end-of-life care in the coming weeks and months.

“The NHS is asking Sue Ryder [a palliative care and bereavement support charity] to plan to support more patients and yet our medical teams are already providing palliative care for patients with coronavirus symptoms with only enough personal protective equipment for a matter of days.

“This means that Sue Ryder will soon be unable to protect our doctors and nurses from contracting the virus."

St Joseph's Hospice in Hackney said its front line staff were working 24 hours a day to provide palliative care "without any PPE".

In a Twitter post, they urged: "Please, please provide us with SFP3 masks, long gowns, gloves, plastic aprons and sanitiser gel so that we can work safely."

St Clare Hospice in Harlow said they are running low on hand sanitiser gel, hand wash, washing up liquid, sanitising wipes, face masks, medical scrubs and clothing.

John Taylor Hospice in Birmingham have been relying on local organisations to donate spare PPE but said "we're still in real need of PPE and especially FFP2 moisture-resistant masks".

Hospices are struggling to get face masks. Credit: PA

On Friday, St Luke's Hospice in Harrow said they too were facing difficulties accessing equipment and called on the local community to step in.

Hospice Chief Executive, Alpana Malde, said: “The safety of our patients, staff and volunteers is our absolute priority.

"Due to the worldwide pandemic we are all currently facing, accessing vital supplies is understandably challenging.

"However, there are still local people who need us.

"It is essential that we are able to remain open, but we can only do so with the right equipment and supplies."

They are appealing for hand sanitiser, latex gloves, fluid resistant masks, plastic visors, and wipeable lanyards.

“Hospices provide essential care for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, in inpatient units and in people’s own homes," Hospice UK told us.

"It is vital that hospice staff, like those working in any health or care setting, have the equipment they need to protect themselves, their patients and the wider community."

ITV News has contacted the Department of Health and Social Care for a response.

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