Coronavirus: NHS whistleblower says nurses should withdraw from Covid-19 heart attack victims due to “inadequate” PPE

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Exclusive: Hospital confidence insists nurses can respond to coronavirus patient emergencies – even if staff don’t have improved PPE

Thursday April 2, 2020, 6.34 p.m.

Updated Thursday, April 2, 2020, 6:35 p.m.

A nurse adjusts her face mask before taking tampons from a Covid-19 at a test station in Surrey. A whistleblower in a Welsh hospital told inews nurses have been asked to “stay away” from coronavirus patients if they have a heart attack or require intervention such as intubation due concerns about PPE (Photo: Dan Kitwood / Getty)

A senior nurse from Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen said I she believed that clinicians and patients were at risk because she and her colleagues were only given surgical masks and standard plastic aprons as personal protective equipment (PPE) to treat victims of the coronavirus.

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The whistleblower, who I agreed not to identify himself, said nurses were advised not to intervene if a coronavirus patient needed an “aerosol procedure” such as intubation or suffered from an emergency than a heart attack, as higher level PPE was not available in the room.

Instead, she said nurses who otherwise have the training to start procedures are asked to call a medical emergency team (EAM) elsewhere in the hospital who should have adequate PPE.

National guidelines

The Hywel Dda University Board of Health, which runs the hospital, insisted its staff follow the national NHS guidelines that allow staff to begin resuscitation procedures using existing PPE. He insisted that nothing would be lost to provide emergency response.

In the meantime, the British Medical Association, which represents doctors, said it was launching a campaign to highlight what it considered to be an “outrageous” lack of PPE.

“There is a very real fear that the patient may die”

The Glangwili hospital nurse said, “We have no improved PPE in the ward and my manager’s advice was to leave if a situation like cardiac arrest occurred with an HIV-positive patient Covid and request a MET.

“But it would take precious seconds or minutes during which time we think we couldn’t intervene because we don’t have the right protective gear. It is appalling because there is a very real fear that a patient could die at that time. “

“Lambs at the slaughterhouse”

She added, “We feel like lambs at the slaughterhouse. All that has been delivered to us is plastic aprons and these phony surgical masks and yet we are told that we can take care of all the daily needs of patients who are positive for Covid. We wear uniforms which we then take home to wash each night and put ourselves and our families at risk.

“Our instinct is to take care of our patients, but we are asked to put ourselves in danger. It’s just not enough. “

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HIV positive patient

The nurse said that one patient who tested positive for coronavirus had been kept in general care with approximately 20 non-Covid patients for two days in the past two weeks. During the same period, five other patients developed symptoms that led them to be tested for coronavirus.

The nurse added, “I don’t think we are alone in these circumstances. I have heard very similar stories from elsewhere. I think the hospital directors are doing their best – the problem is the shortage and those above them. “

No directives

In a statement, the Hywel Dda University Health Council said that no guidelines had been issued to staff beyond the national NHS guidelines and that staff wearing standard PPE could begin intervene safely in the event of cardiac arrest.

Nursing Director Mandy Rayani said, “The national guidelines we followed … confirm that chest compressions can be started by first responders, in an emergency, with PPE currently available to our nursing staff. . In the initial stages of resuscitation, improved PPE … is not required. This means that critical time does not need to be lost. “

Downing Street insisted once again that it was tackling any problem in the PPE supply chain for health and social services. Number 10 stated that PPE had been supplied to more than 26,000 nursing homes, including hospices.

45.5 million PPE items delivered

Personal protective equipment (PPE) has become a growing concern for NHS personnel as the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase (Photo: Justin Setterfield / Getty)

NHS England said that some 45.5 million PPE items were delivered to 280 trusts and suppliers on Wednesday, including five million aprons, one million high-quality face masks and six million surgical masks.

But the British Medical Association, which represents doctors, said there was an “outrageous” lack of PPE when launching a campaign to highlight the problem.

Dr Fiona Godlee, editor of British Medical Journal, published by the BMA, said: “For healthcare workers on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic, work suddenly became a scary place. There is a real and justified fear for personal safety, fueled by an outrageous lack of personal protective equipment. “

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