UK govt criticized for telling medical workers to reuse PPE amid shortages

Source:Reuters Published: 2020/4/19 19:18:40

UK government faces mounting criticism over protection clothing shortages

Doctors and health workers criticized the British government on Saturday for suggesting that personal protective equipment (PPE) worn while treating patients infected with coronavirus could be reused, as supplies run low across the country.

Photo taken on April 14, 2020 shows taped benches on the south bank of the River Thames, backdropped by the City of London, in London, Britain. Photo: Xinhua

Britain is at or near the peak of a health crisis in which more than 15,490 people have died - the fifth highest national death toll of a pandemic linked to at least 161,320 deaths worldwide.

Data published on Saturday showed 15,464 people have died in British hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus - an increase of 888 in the 24 hours to 1600 GMT on Friday. That increase is higher than recent days, but below the highest daily death toll of 980, seen on April 10.

The government issued new guidance to hospitals on Friday setting out that alternatives to fluid-repellent full-length gowns may need to be used, including reusable gowns or even long-sleeved laboratory coats.

"This guidance is a further admission of the dire situation that some doctors and healthcare workers continue to find themselves in because of government failings," said Rob Harwood, chairman of the consultants committee at the British Medical Association.

"If it's being proposed that staff reuse equipment, this must be demonstrably driven by science and the best evidence - rather than availability."

A Department of Health spokesman said the guidance was to ensure that staff knew what to do to minimize risk if shortages did occur, and that the rules remained in line with international standards.

"We've got to do more to get the PPE that people need to the frontline," Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said when asked about the situation at the government's daily news conference.

He acknowledged the shortages but added that a consignment was due to arrive from Turkey on Sunday containing equipment including 400,000 protective gowns.

The Royal College of Nursing has written to express its concerns.

Posted in: EUROPE

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