Hospital staff warned that they could “limit services” to coronavirus patients “to the bare minimum” for fear of their own safety.
In a letter to management, doctors at Essex Southend Hospital say they are not receiving the right personal protective equipment (PPE).
BBC Essex has learned that a quarter of Southend’s medical staff are no longer sick with symptoms of coronavirus.
Hospital owners say they are “absolutely committed” to the safety of staff.
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In the letter, Southend A&E clinicians note:
- “PPE is rationed”, “stocks are limited” and what is available is “closed to personnel and inaccessible”
- Staff reportedly “petrified” at hospital and claims most have not been tested for the virus
- Staff also say that many “are reluctant to work in this [high-risk] “Because of safety concerns” but keep doing it because we have the well-being of our patients above all ”
They warn general manager Clare Panniker that if the quality and availability of PPE do not improve by the time the “doors close” on April 1, they will introduce “restricted services” in high-risk areas of the hospital.
In a statement, Southend Hospital said: “We fully comply with England Public Health guidelines for the use of personal protective equipment which have been developed by expert clinicians and is followed by the entire NHS.
“There is no problem with the cost of the equipment. It has been clearly established that cost is not an issue in ensuring the protection of our staff. What is important is that supplies of personal protective equipment in the NHS are used responsibly, so there is enough to shop around. “
A source at Basildon Hospital – who, along with Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, shares the management team and CEO of Southend – says there is a good supply of PPE there, but that they have heard of supply issues at Southend Hospital.
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