Coronavirus: NHS staff fear PPE will run out this weekend

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot

Hospital staff fear they may run out of vital personal protective equipment (PPE) this weekend as they battle against coronavirus.

NHS Trusts across the country have warned they face shortages of gowns, masks, gloves and other protective equipment which is designed to keep staff treating Covid-19 patients safe.

The critical shortage is of full-length protective clinical gowns. NHS providers who represent hospitals trusts say some will run out today or tomorrow.

On Friday, the government updated its guidance on PPE, advising healthcare workers to reuse gowns or wear different kit, such as plastic aprons with coveralls, if stocks run low in England.

It comes after the death of Sonya Kaygan, a carer who worked at Elizabeth Lodge Care Home, Enfield in Greater London.

She leaves behind a young daughter, aged just three.

Her cousin, Sherrihan Afifi, has now set up a fundraiser for her relative.

She told ITV News that the fault lies at the door of those responsible for the "lack of support" these organisations are receiving, not the care home she worked at.

She continued: "A young girl has just lost her life, a 26-year-old girl, it's unheard of."

  • Dr Munaf on shortages of PPE in hospital

One doctor who spoke to ITV News say they fear the lack of protective equipment has left them feeling like “lambs to the slaughter”.

Dr Asif Munaf, an NHS consultant in the East Midlands, told ITV News: “Every day the fear gets more and more. Especially with 50 colleagues being admitted to ITU and 20 colleagues dying in the past few weeks.

“We’ve had almost 20 doctors dying now. I never thought I’d be in a developed country, a first world country, wearing plastic aprons. Who would have thought?

“I’m scared for my family going home. I’ve got a two-year-old son.”

Dr Munaf said staff at his hospital were already having to ration PPE.

“It’s very limited. We’re having to ration this quite heavily. I’m having to make sure my toilet break is limited, my prayer break is limited.

  • 'The fear gets more and more' Dr Munaf on how coronavirus is impact his life

“These things are part of the premium. They should be single basic use, but they’re not. We’re having to wear them for multiple patients.”

Unions representing doctors and nurses have expressed concerns about the change in guidance, saying it puts frontline workers at risk.

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair at the British Medical Association, said: “I saw messages from last night from colleagues saying they were running low on PPE, asking ‘can we share it, can we borrow some, can you move it around to us’.

“That shouldn’t be happening. Staff should be focusing on the patients and it’s the job of government to ensure we have to equipment we need to treat patients.

The Department for Health says the changes to PPE guidance is designed to help staff know what they should wear if such shortages become apparent.

  • 'We are like lambs to the slaughter' Doctor says lack of PPE makes staff feel like a 'commodity'

At the daily government coroanvirus press briefing, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick said “a very large consignment” of PPE – including 400,000 gowns – is due to arrive in the UK from Turkey on Sunday.

He added the Government was working with British manufacturers to ensure demand is met and urged manufacturers to contact if they can help produce PPE.

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He added: “There’s over 50,000 healthcare settings like that in the country, and we’re using local resilience forums, backed by almost 200 military planners to do the logistical task of taking the stocks that we do have, and getting them to the front line, but I completely accept that this is extremely challenging.

“Supply in some areas, particularly gowns and certain types of masks and aprons, is in short supply at the moment, and that must be an extremely anxious time for people working on the front line, but they should be assured that we are doing everything we can to correct this issue, and to get them the equipment that they need.”

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know