Doctors and nurses were asked to reuse personal protective equipment (PPE) before the shortages expected this weekend.
The Department of Health has issued advice for all NHS workers in light of impending supply problems, which the government has blamed on the huge global demand for items such as masks and dresses.
The document states that personnel should consider “reuse of personal protective equipment” if necessary, even if designated by the manufacturer as a single-use product.
He says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “recognizes that an ongoing compromise is necessary” to deal with shortages and ensure that workers are still using an appropriate form of protection.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma acknowledged concern in Downing Street daily coronavirus Press briefing, saying that there was a “global shortage” affecting supply within the NHS.
A word about the problems expected this weekend was reported by The Guardian for a few moments the conference, especially with regard to dresses.
But there had been little recognition of the problem by Health Secretary Matt Hancock earlier in the day.
During his appearance before the parliamentary health and social care committee, Hancock admitted that reuse of protective equipment may be necessary – but said nothing about the advice given to doctors.
The health secretary said, “In some cases, reuse of PPE is advised by clinicians, so I keep coming back to the point that it must be a clinical decision. “
Regarding the shortages that doctors have already had to endure, he said, “Given that we have a global situation in which there is less PPE in the world than what the world needs, it will obviously be a huge pressure point. “
New advice sent to NHS workers before the weekend recognizes that “these are exceptional circumstances and do not reflect the standard HSE approach.”
He adds that “additional work on validating methods for the safe reprocessing of water-repellent masks and gowns is underway and future updates will be released when available.”
Frontline NHS workers complained of shortages COVID-19 the epidemic, with some saying they even had to buy their own kit and others forced to use trash bags instead of dresses.
British companies not normally involved in manufacturing medical equipment have been asked to help the cause, with fashion retailer Burberry among those involved.
Following the publication of this advice, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said: “New clinical advice has been published today to ensure that in the event of a shortage in one area, front line staff know which PPE to wear instead to minimize the risks.