Providing vital protective equipment to front-line health workers has become “day-to-day,” said an NHS leader.
The government flies boxes from China daily by air, but some are removed from the planes before take-off by officials who wish to test them. Other boxes arrive in the UK only for NHS officials to find out that they have been mis-labeled.
Rather than containing essential protective gowns, they are filled with masks. Worse still, much of the kit from China – the world’s largest supplier – is unusable as it fails British security checks.
The amazing revelations come from Chris Hopson of NHS Providers, who represents hospitals, ambulance services and mental health trusts. He said, “It was all a little day to day.
Providing life-saving protective gear to frontline health workers has become “day-to-day,” said an NHS leader, highly dependent on supplies from China.
The crux of the matter is that getting this stock that was ordered weeks ago from China turns out to be somewhat erratic. “
More than 30 NHS staff are believed to have died from coronavirus, and activists say some of the deaths are a direct result of a lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE. As Health Secretary Matt Hancock promised to investigate the deaths to determine how the victims caught the virus:
- Boris Johnson revealed that his fight against the disease “could have gone both ways”;
- The death toll in Britain has increased by 737 to more than 10,000, with an expert warning that it should be the highest in Europe.
- It appeared that the Cabinet was divided over the end of the foreclosure, with growing concerns about the impact of school closings;
- Michael Gove revealed that he had obtained a special exemption to have his daughter tested for the virus so that he could return to work;
- The Archbishop of Canterbury asked that the dead be treated with dignity;
- Ministers recognized that only 4,200 of the 300,000 small businesses had received loans;
- The Royal College of Nursing told its members to refuse to treat patients if they did not have adequate protective clothing;
The Royal College of Surgeons said that a third of the members did not have enough PPE. Everyone, including doctors, nurses, nursing home workers and paramedics, should wear protective clothing within two meters of a suspected coronavirus patient.
It includes gowns, masks, gloves and visors and is essential to prevent individuals from contracting the disease and spreading it to patients or their own families. At least 30 NHS staff died during the epidemic after testing positive, but it is not known how many contracted the virus due to an insufficient supply of PPE.
The victims include Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, 53, who died last week in Romford, east London, five days after urging Mr. Johnson to make sure the personnel had “proper” PPE.
The extreme shortage of PPE adds increasing pressure to NHS staff across the country, as guidelines state that protective clothing should be worn by anyone – including doctors, nurses, nursing home workers and paramedics – within two meters of a suspected coronavirus patient
Chris Hopson (pictured on Andrew Marr), whose organization represents 217 NHS trusts with more than one million employees, said that China was the only global supplier of dresses on which the United Kingdom now builds.
Ministers say they have delivered 761 million items of protective clothing to the NHS and nursing homes in recent weeks, but in recent days hospitals have reported serious shortages of gowns.
Chris Hopson, whose organization represents 217 NHS trusts with more than one million employees, said China is the world’s only supplier of these dresses, which must be water resistant.
He said the government had organized daily air flights, mainly from Shanghai, which were supervised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assisted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
But explaining the logistical problems that resulted in the blockage of these supplies, he added: “We understand that the Chinese are removing inventory to test it before leaving the country. So even if you have the plane over there, the shipment over there, you can’t really guarantee it will get on the plane.
“The second problem is that when the plane arrives in the UK, there have been boxes that say on the outer dresses, but in fact, when you open them, you have masks. We also need to test all the clothes when they arrive and some shipments have failed the tests.
“Everyone in the NHS is incredibly frustrated that we cannot get the supply. The reality is that it is probably only China that has the volume, the manufacturing capacity and the access to water-repellent material. “
Hancock said the circumstances of the death of NHS staff would be investigated to understand as much as possible how they got the virus. Hancock said he knew 19 health workers who died after contracting the disease, although the Mail identified at least 32, from surgeons to doctors, nurses to carriers.
He told the Downing Street press conference: “We are looking at every circumstance to understand as much as possible how they got the virus, whether at work, outside of work and making sure we learn as much as possible and , therefore, of course, to protect our health workers as much as possible. “
Sara Trollope (pictured with Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year), 51, was months away from retirement when she became another hero named deadly virus victim
Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, 53, left, died in hospital after 15-day battle with the virus – five days after urging Mr. Johnson to make sure staff had “proper” PPE
But he insisted that it would be impossible to commit to a deadline to provide PPE to all who needed it, including “several million people through the NHS and social services.”
Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing has issued guidelines to members saying that if they have not received adequate PPE, they may refuse to treat patients. The recommendations state: “Ultimately, if you have exhausted all other measures to reduce your risk and have not received proper PPE … you have the right to refuse to work. “
An investigation by the Royal College of Surgeons revealed that a third of surgeons did not believe they had adequate personal protective equipment.
More than half – 57% – of the 1,978 members who participated in the survey said their confidence had experienced a shortage in the past 30 days. One described the lack of masks as “outrageous” and said that he had contracted the disease in a patient who had infected six other staff members.
An investigation by the Royal College of Surgeons revealed that a third of surgeons did not believe they had an adequate supply of personal protective equipment.
Sue Hill, vice president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said, “We have worked with the government to ensure that surgeons and their teams have the right advice on the level of PPE they need for different surgical procedures, but the overall picture of our investigation is that there is still a lot of work to do to obtain adequate equipment on the front line. In the meantime, we have urged our members not to risk their health or the health of their patients performing risky procedures. “
An NHS source said that the reason Chinese officials took off flight protective clothing for testing was in case they were blamed if the expeditions turned out to be dangerous.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is supposed to coordinate the flights with some contribution with the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Health. The army is not involved.
STEPHEN GLOVER: Why are we counting on China for essential dresses?
When did the authorities first learn that this country would face a deadly contagion that would cost the lives of thousands of people? There must be at least two months back.
Six weeks ago tomorrow, Boris Johnson delivered what appeared to be a shocking statement in which he warned of a serious pandemic. At this point, there had only been 51 registered cases of coronavirus in the UK.
Today, there are almost 20 times more deaths every day. No one knows when or how it will end. But it is clear that a lack of basic equipment, especially overalls, puts the lives of NHS personnel at risk.
The question that doctors, nurses and other front-line workers have the right to ask is why – with at least two months’ notice – the government did not plan something as basic as best . Health Secretary Matt Hancock boasted that 761 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) had been produced for the NHS. Well.
But why is there a shortage of overalls, and why are doctors and nurses dying for lack of them? Three nurses, who had been forced to carry trash bags during their shift due to a shortage of gowns, contracted a coronavirus. Isn’t it shameful?
NHS providers, who represent all hospital trusts, warned that the supply of gowns was “day-to-day.” Leaking memos warn of a “national shortage” of long-sleeved dresses.
And, as the Mail reports today, 57 percent of doctors in a survey by the Royal College of Surgeons said their trusts had experienced a shortage of PPE in the past 30 days. Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing has issued guidelines to its members saying that if they do not receive adequate PPE, they can refuse to treat patients.
Who could blame them? To date, at least 19 NHS workers have died and some family members believe they have been infected due to a lack of equipment. What went wrong? There have been bottlenecks in shipments from China – our main supplier of dresses – so essential supplies are blocked.
Now, let’s say something that, in today’s climate – when everyone, including the now happily recovered Prime Minister, praises the NHS in the air – may seem controversial.
The organization is not perfect. Its doctors, nurses and other workers are exemplary and we owe them incalculable debt. But it is not health services. The NHS – with its little sister Quango, Public Health England – is a large, heavy and often ineffective bureaucracy. It does not respond quickly to rapidly changing requests for this crafty virus.
We have already seen how struggling the NHS is with tests, where the daily rate is still far below what experts believe is necessary. This slowness seems to have been at least partly the result of suspicions raised by the use of the health service in private laboratories.
Of course, I can understand that proper testing is a complicated matter. It is undeniably true that many other countries have not covered themselves with glory either. But is providing enough basic gowns and other fairly simple PPE equipment really a challenge for a country that is supposed to have the fifth or sixth economy in the world?
With at least two months’ notice, it would certainly have been possible to speed up the manufacturing of dresses in the UK, rather than relying on distant China. There have even been horrific stories of health workers cutting curtains. As slow as the NHS and Public Health England are, the situation ends with Mr. Hancock.
No one is envying the secretary of health in his work yet. I have no doubt that he works 18 hours a day and does a lot of good things. But the shortage of PPE equipment is ultimately his responsibility.
I fear he had the bad head to suggest that the doctors wasted equipment. He seems to be trying to blame the fault. It is immoral to ask doctors, nurses and other health workers to take greater risks in their lives than they should.
No wonder some of them said they felt “like slaughter lambs”. Action is needed. Bottlenecks should be removed. We need to find more gowns and other vital PPE equipment.
He feels, not for the first time, that no one is fully responsible for this terrible crisis.