As the UK braces for the full brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, doctors and nurses who work for the already strained NHS – the country’s free healthcare system – are scared for their own safety and lives. Not only are many not being supplied with the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to treat patients, but they are also not being given the necessary test kits for Covid-19.
Dangerous Lack of PPE
When Prime Minister Boris Johnson was questioned about the lack of PPE for the NHS workforce, he said: “Our NHS should feel that they are able to interact with patients with perfect security and protection,” and added that “there is a massive effort going on, comparable to the effort to build enough ventilators, to ensure that we have adequate supplies of PPE equipment not just now, but throughout the outbreak.”
Yet, despite this response coming almost a week ago, NHS workers continue to complain about the continued shortage of PPE.
Staff at one of London’s major hospitals, which became overwhelmed by an influx of COVID-19 patients, was forced to resort to wearing garbage bags in a feeble attempt to protect themselves.
A nurse on duty spoke to the Express with a plea for proper masks, gowns, and gloves.
“We had to use our initiative. We had no other choice or we could catch the virus ourselves,” she said. “We need proper PPE kit now, or nurses and doctors are going to die. It’s simple as that. We’re treating our own colleagues on the ward after they caught the virus from patients. How can that be right?”
British Doctors are Getting Coronavirus
More and more healthcare workers in Britain are succumbing to the dreaded global virus. One of the most recent cases is a 52-year-old senior doctor, who is currently on life-support and fighting for his life. He had no prior health issues and was described as being “fit and healthy” prior to contracting the novel coronavirus.
News of the medic’s plight came as NHS colleagues warned that many more staff would fall ill – or even die – from coronavirus because of the desperate need for PPE.
Professor Nirmal Kumar, consultant otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon, told Sky News that the nose was the main entry point for the virus as per breathing in droplets of air with coronavirus, making unmasked staff particularly vlunerable to infection.
“We sadly have two consultants (ENT) who are on ventilators in this country and most likely having acquired the infection from passive (asymptomatic) carriers in the course of their daily clinical work,” Kumar said.
Frontline Doctors in the UK No Longer Feel Safe
An open letter coordinated by the Doctors’ Association UK in the Sunday Times stated that frontline doctors no longer feel safe at work; intensive care doctors and anesthesiologists have been carrying out the highest-risk procedure with masks that expired in 2015; and GPs do not have simple masks to protect them if a patient comes in with symptoms of Covid-19.
“This is unacceptable. NHS staff are putting their lives on the line every day they turn up to work. The reality is that many of us will get sick. Doctors are all too aware of the possibility that they will lose colleagues, as has happened in outbreaks around the world. It is therefore deeply upsetting to hear dedicated healthcare professionals say they feel like ‘cannon fodder’” the letter reads, noting that “the supply of PPE in the coming weeks must be stepped up as we see a surge in cases. If it is not, the public will be endangered and dedicated NHS staff could lose their lives. It is time for the prime minister to demonstrate his commitment to the NHS and protect the lives of the life-savers.”
Medical Staff Not Being Tested for Coronavirus
The Prime Minister announced that there would also be an increase in the number of daily coronavirus tests from 10,000 to 25,000 and that the government would have “prioritizing testing” in place for NHS workers.
The British Medical Association, however, slammed this claim on a tweet saying that this was “not reflected in the experiences of our members at the frontline of the health service and is something we are pushing to be resolved as a matter of urgency.”
One NHS doctor, who spoke anonymously to InsideOver, confessed that he was terrified for the safety of not just himself but also of his family.
“I had a patient come in the other day who suddenly collapsed. We later discovered that he had coronavirus. Before I knew this, I had been treating him for quite some time with no protective gear,” he said. “When I requested to have a Covid-19 test, I was told that unless I developed symptoms, to just carry on. This is not just happening to me, but also to many of my colleagues who may have been exposed to the virus and asked for the test.
“I get anxiety every day I go to work. I have young children at home and I am worried about not just getting it myself, but also passing it on to them.”