Stocks of essential personal protective equipment are running critically low.
NHS stores are running critically low on some of the personal protective equipment (PPE) required to treat COVID-19 patients, sources say.
Reportedly the Royal College of Nursing‘s ruling council were forewarned yesterday at a confidential meeting that, at current usage, the NHS only has enough long-armed gowns to last for the next 48 hours.
The source, a senior figure in the College but wishing to remain anonymous, came forward after feeling burdened that this information was not public knowledge.
Earlier today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, refused to confirm to a Health Select Committee if the NHS had enough PPE to “last the weekend”.
“I would love to be able to wave a magic wand and have PPE fall from the sky in large quantities”, Mr. Hancock said.
The government has now made policy changes enabling the re-use of the historically single-use gowns, amid what it calls an “acute shortage”.
NHS trusts around the country have been relying on donations of home-made face shields and scrubs.
An acute shortage.
A Department of Health and Social care spokesperson said: “We are working round the clock given the global shortage of gowns and other PPE to secure the NHS and the social care sector the equipment they need.
“New clinical advice has been issued today to make sure that if there are shortages in one area, frontline staff know what PPE to wear instead to minimise risk.
“This has been reviewed by the Health and Safety Executive, and is in line with WHO and CDC guidance on PPE use in exceptional circumstances.
“There is a 24 hour NHS-run helpline where NHS and social care workers can call to report shortages in supply and it is crucial the relevant guidance for protective equipment is followed closely.”
Anthony Johnson of the grass-roots nursing activists group Nurses United said; “Throughout the country, we’ve been hearing about Nurses struggling to get equipment. It’s scary and frustrating for us to meet the challenge asked of us by the Government while they can’t hold up their side of the deal.
“We all know that the only way we’ll get through this is through the hard work of Nurses – I hope the public remembers the sacrifices we made to beat this virus
The Royal College of Nursing told NursingNotes that it “cannot comment on operational Council meetings that don’t take place in public”.