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Southend Hospital staff warn of need to cut services due to limited protective gear

Many are urging government to provide more PPE in fight against coronavirus Credit: AP

Medics at an Essex hospital have warned they may need to limit services to a "bare minimum" amid concerns over a shortage of protective equipment for staff.

Staff at Southend Hospital said they're concerned about the rationing of personal protective equipment (PPE).

In a letter sent to management, staff have warned if the standard and availability of PPE is not improved, they will introduce "restricted services" in high-risk areas of the hospital.

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In a statement sent to ITV Anglia, bosses at Southend Hospital said they are committed to keeping their staff safe

We are fully complying with the Public Health England guidance on the use of Personal Protective Equipment, which has been developed by expert clinicians and is being followed by the whole of the NHS.

Like all other hospitals, we have staff working around the clock to ensure that we have sufficient supplies of PPE available for our staff.

– Southend Hospital management
PHE guidelines on how healthcare professionals should put on their PPE Credit: PHE

Global shortages of PPE have led to shortfalls on the NHS front line.

The government has made assurances that millions of pieces of kit have been delivered across the country.

At least one GP practice in the UK has ordered face shields on online marketplace Amazon in a bid to protect its staff when the regular supply chain failed.

The government is due to update its PPE guidance later this week, but NHS leaders have said this is "long overdue".

It comes as some leading trade unions warned the lack of PPE is a "crisis within a crisis".

Seven unions outlined how staff are being forced to risk their lives and face disciplinary action if they speak out.

Unison, the Royal College of Midwives, GMB, Unite, TUC, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the British Dietetic Association released a joint statement.

It is now clear that the lack of PPE for front-line workers has become a crisis within a crisis. Workers are being exposed to unreasonable and unnecessary risk by the ongoing failure to provide key workers with adequate PPE.

Every day we hear from our members that despite repeated assurances from Government, people are being asked to work with inadequate or out of date protective equipment - and that is where PPE is being provided at all.

Key workers deserve better. They are risking their own health and safety for us.

We must be clear what that means. Those who are subject to prolonged and direct exposure to the virus - such as health and social care professionals - are risking their lives.

They added that workers are being gagged against speaking out over concerns or face disciplinary action if they refuse to undertake activities without appropriate PPE.

– Joint union statement

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