The Government claims 742 million pieces of PPE have already been delivered to the front-line.
The Health Secretary has warned NHS staff not to overuse personal protective equipment (PPE) sparking criticism from healthcare leaders.
“We need everyone to treat PPE like the precious resource it is,” Matt Hancock said during the daily COVID-19 briefing on Friday. “Everyone should use the equipment they clinically need, in line with the guidelines: no more and no less.”
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and British Medical Association (BMA) have since dismissed claims that front-line workers are overusing PPE.
In response to his comments, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, emphasised that no amount of PPE was “more precious a resource than a healthcare worker’s life, a nurse’s life, a doctor’s life”.
Susan Masters, the RCN’s Director of Nursing, added; “These figures on deliveries are only impressive when nursing staff stop contacting me to say what they need to use wasn’t available. The calls are still coming through – people are petrified. They have seen colleagues die already.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA’s chair, said: “We are dealing with an unknown, highly infectious, and potentially deadly virus that has already claimed the lives of several healthcare workers,”.
“It is absurd that the people trained to treat this disease are the ones who are not being appropriately protected – and without them, we face real disaster.
Adding; “PPE should not be a ‘precious resource’ and for NHS staff facing shortages of protection they need today, they don’t want to hear of a plan, but that this vital equipment is made available to the frontline now.”
Mr Hancock has consistently promised front-line workers the NHS has stockpiled “massive” amounts of PPE but the BMA has warned that supplies in two large areas of England are running at dangerously low levels.
Speaking at Saturday’s COVID-19 briefing, the home secretary Priti Patel admitted some issues with distribution but said; “I’m sorry if people feel that there have been failings. I will be very, very clear about that.
“But at the same time, we are in an unprecedented global health pandemic right now. It is inevitable that the demand and the pressures on PPE and demand for PPE are going to be exponential.”