A number of frontline health workers in Jersey have told ITV News they have either the wrong type of personal protective equipment (PPE), or there is a shortage of supplies.
They have spoken out on condition of anonymity to highlight what they say are circumstances that could see coronavirus needlessly spread in the General Hospital.
It follows an explicit statement from the Health Minister, Deputy Richard Renouf, asserting “currently there is sufficient PPE for those organisations that need it".
One hospital worker told ITV News that is not the case.
The guidance is that a PPE gown should wrap all the way round. Those in A&E only cover the front. [The manager] has said it’s no big deal. Staff don’t feel listened to over this. Imagine the dispersal pattern of droplets. If the clinician’s back isn’t covered, the back of their clothing or scrubs becomes inoculated. That clinician leaves the ‘hot zone’ and sits down. Their back then touches a chair and inoculates it. The spread begins.
Another described the strict rationing of face masks because supplies are short.
We definitely do not have enough PPE. We are given two masks. We have to sign for what we have taken. When we go back for more we have to say what we have used our second mask for.
Well it is a big concern and the biggest concern is that we just don’t have adequate supplies We are being told by the government continually that yes they will provide, they will provide, but we’ve not seen it yet. The only thing people are getting is what they’re calling a ‘hot drop’ so for example if someone is diagnosed as positive in a care home or a home care service provider then they’ll get a delivery of PPE for two or three days. But that’s all we’ve got and nothing further.
Because of the global demand for PPE equipment we have to manage supplies carefully. We are reminding healthcare colleagues daily about the guidelines for the correct use of PPE both to ensure staff are adequately protected and to stop it being wasted.
Today the Social Security Minister, Deputy Judy Martin, when asked specifically if she was certain frontline health workers at the hospital and care homes had enough PPE said she did not know.
Am I absolutely sure we have enough to cover everyone? I can’t give you that answer at the moment. I can find out. We would love to have warehouses and cupboards full of this equipment that we could throw money at and get it but we are getting there. Frontline and everything are covered. It needs to go to GPs and care homes. Some is there, but if it’s not enough we will get there.”
ITV News has approached the government for further details of the levels of stock of PPE and for their response to concerns from health workers.