The health boss warns hospitals that are ‘critically low’ on coats and are faced with ‘hand-to-mouth’ supplies of personal protective equipment
A health boss has warned that hospitals are ‘critically low’ on coats and are facing ‘hand-to-mouth’ stock of PPE because orders from China are being delayed.
NHS provider director Chris Hopson said several trusts have received emergency supplies, while those in surplus have been asked to share their supplies with neighbors.
It came amid repeated requests for more protective equipment for frontline personnel, as it is revealed that at least 32 have died from the virus.
Chris Hopson (pictured speaking on the Andrew Marr show), whose organization represents 217 NHS trusts with more than a million employees, said China is the world’s only supplier of dresses that the UK now relies on
Trusts with an oversupply of dresses and other protective equipment have been asked to share this with their neighbors
“If everything had flowed exactly as ordered and if all the material had passed the safety test, there wouldn’t be a problem,” Mr. Hopson told the Today program.
“This is all really hand-to-mouth when it comes to delivering dresses, and we need to achieve a more sustainable offering.”
“The NHS took about 10 weeks to prepare, and in fact the vast majority of preparations went extremely well.
“There is a range of personal protective equipment that must be delivered to the front line … almost all of that material flows in the way that confidence would like.
The part where there is a particular problem was coats, which we know have become critically low on coats in the past 72 hours.
“No confidence, as far as I know, is actually gone, but some stocks are very, very low.”
Providing life-saving protective equipment to primary health personnel has become ‘hand-to-mouth’, an NHS leader revealed, heavily dependent on supplies from China
The government flies daily in crates from China, but some are removed from planes before taking off by officials who want to test them. Other boxes only reach the UK for NHS officials to discover that they have been mislabelled.
Instead of containing much needed protective coats, they are filled with masks. Even worse, much of the equipment from China – the world’s major supplier – is unusable because it fails British security checks.
The amazing revelations come from Chris Hopson of NHS Providers, who represents hospitals, ambulance services and mental health counselors. He said, “It’s all been a bit of word of mouth.
The crux of the problem is that getting that stock ordered from China weeks ago turns out to be quite erratic. He said China was the only country with the right materials and production capacity to produce protective equipment.
More than 30 NHS employees are said to have died from the coronavirus, and campaigners say some of the deaths were the direct result of a lack of personal protective equipment or PPE. As health secretary Matt Hancock promised to investigate these deaths to determine how the victims contracted the virus:
- Boris Johnson revealed his battle with the disease “could have gone either way”;
- The death toll in Britain rose from 737 to over 10,000 with an expert’s warning that it would be the highest in Europe;
- The cabinet found that it is divided over when the lockdown should end, with growing concerns about the impact of school closings;
- Michael Gove revealed that he had been given a special dispensation to have his daughter tested for the virus so that he could return to work;
- The Archbishop of Canterbury insisted that the dead be treated with dignity;
- Ministers admitted 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 a third of its members lacked adequate personal protective equipment. Protective clothing should be worn by everyone – including doctors, nurses, caregivers and paramedics – within two meters of a suspected coronavirus patient.
It contains coats, masks, gloves and visors and is essential to prevent individuals from contracting the disease and passing it on to patients or their own families. At least 30 NHS employees died during the outbreak after a positive test, although it is not known how much the virus contracted due to insufficient supply of PPE.
Victims include Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, 53, who died last week in Romford, East London, five days after urging Mr. Johnson to ensure staff had “appropriate” PPE.
The extreme shortage of personal protective equipment is increasing the burden on NHS personnel across the country, as guidelines state that protective clothing should be worn by everyone – including physicians, nurses, nursing home staff and paramedics – within two meters of a suspected coronavirus patient
Ministers claim they have delivered 761 million protective garments to the NHS and nursing homes in recent weeks, but hospitals have reported severe coat shortages in recent days.
Chris Hopson, whose organization represents 217 NHS, relies on more than a million employees, said China is the world’s only supplier of these jackets, which must be water resistant.
He said the government had arranged daily airlifts, mainly from Shanghai, overseen by the State Department, aided by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
But he explained the logistical issues that led to the depletion of these supplies and added, “We understand that the Chinese are picking up the supplies to test them before leaving the country. So even if you have the plane there, the shipment there, you cannot guarantee that it will actually get on the plane.
“The second problem is that when the plane arrives in the UK there are boxes that say on the outer jackets, but actually when you open them there are masks. We also have to test all garments when they come by and some shipments have failed the tests.
“Everyone in the NHS is incredibly frustrated that we can’t get the stock. The reality is that probably only China has the volume and production capacity and access to moisture repellent material. ”
Mr. Hancock said the circumstances of the deaths of NHS employees would be investigated to best understand how they contracted the virus. Mr. Hancock said he was aware of 19 healthcare workers who died after contracting the disease, although the Mail had identified at least 32, from surgeons to doctors, nurses to carriers.
He told the Downing Street press conference: “We examine every circumstance to understand as much as possible how they contracted the virus, whether at work, outside work, and to ensure that we learn as much as possible and therefore, of course protect our health workers as much as possible. ‘
Sara Trollope (pictured last year with Prime Minister Boris Johnson), 51, was just months away from retirement when she again became a hero named as a victim of the deadly virus
53-year-old Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, pictured left, died in the hospital after a 15-day battle against the virus – five days after urging Mr. Johnson to ensure staff had ‘appropriate’ PPE
But he insisted it would be impossible to have a timetable to get personal protective equipment for everyone who needed it, including “many millions of people across the NHS and social care.”
Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing issued guidelines to members who said that if they were not given enough personal protective equipment, they could refuse to treat patients. The recommendations read, “Ultimately, if you have taken all other measures to reduce your risk and have not been given the appropriate personal protective equipment … you have the right to refuse to work.”
A survey by the Royal College of Surgeons found that a third of surgeons do not believe they have adequate personal protective equipment.
More than half – 57 percent – of the 1,978 members who participated in the survey said their confidence had fallen short of the past 30 days. One of them described the lack of masks as “outrageous,” saying that he had contracted the disease from a patient who infected six other staff.
A survey by the Royal College of Surgeons found that a third of surgeons do not believe they have adequate 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 appropriate advice on the level of personal protective equipment they need for different surgical procedures, but the general picture of our research is that much work remains to be done to get enough equipment to the frontline. In the meantime, we have urged our members not to risk their health and that of their patients who perform risky procedures. ‘
An NHS source said the reason Chinese officials removed protective clothing from the flights for testing, in case they were blamed if the shipments were found unsafe.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinates the flights with some input with the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Health. The military is not involved.
STEPHEN GLOVER: Why do we rely on China for vital dresses?
When did the authorities first become aware that this country would face a deadly infection that would cost thousands of lives? It must be back at least two months.
Six weeks ago, Boris Johnson issued a shocking statement at the time warning of a serious pandemic. At that stage, there were only 51 recorded cases of coronavirus in the UK.
Now there are nearly 20 times as many deaths per day. No one knows when or how this will end. But it is clear that a lack of basic equipment, especially jackets, is endangering the lives of NHS personnel.
The question that doctors, nurses and others on the front line may ask is why the government – with at least two months’ notice – has not made better provision for such a relatively basic issue. Health Secretary Matt Hancock boasted that 761 million personal protective equipment (PPE) have been produced for the NHS. Good.
But why is there a shortage of coats, and why do doctors and nurses die for lack of it? Three nurses, who were forced to carry garbage bags during their shift because of a lack of coats, contracted the corona virus. Isn’t that disgraceful?
NHS Providers, which represents all hospital representatives, has warned that the delivery of dresses is “hand to mouth.” Leaked memos warn of a ‘national shortage’ of long sleeve dresses.
And, as the Mail reports today, 57 percent of physicians in a study conducted by the Royal College of Surgeons said their confidence has experienced a shortage of personal protective equipment in the past 30 days. Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing has issued guidelines to its members stating that if they have not received adequate personal protective equipment, they may refuse to treat patients.
Who can blame them? To date, at least 19 NHS employees have died, and some family members believe they have been infected from equipment shortages. What went wrong? There are bottlenecks in shipments from China – our main supplier of jackets – to hold back critical supplies.
Now I’m going to say something that in the current climate – when everyone, including the prime minister, has now graciously recovered, praises the NHS in the sky – it may seem controversial.
The organization is not perfect. The doctors, nurses and other workers are exemplary and we owe them an incalculable debt. But they are not the health service. The NHS – along with its quango sister, Public Health England – is a hugely unwieldy and often inefficient bureaucracy. It does not respond quickly to the rapidly developing demands of this crafty virus.
We’ve already seen how cumbersome the NHS has been in struggling with testing, with the daily rate still far below the level experts agree. This sluggishness seems to have been at least partly due to suspicions that health workers’ jobs hold about private laboratories.
Of course I can understand that good testing is a complicated problem. It is undeniably true that many other countries have not covered themselves in glory either. But is providing enough basic dresses and other fairly simple PPE gear really such a challenge for a country that should have the fifth or sixth economy in the world?
With a notice period of at least two months, it would certainly have been possible to step up production of dresses in the UK, rather than relying on fard China. In fact, there are terrible stories about health workers cutting the curtains. Although the NHS and Public Health England are slow, the money ends up with Mr Hancock.
No one envies the Health Secretary at this time in his work. I have no doubt that he works 18 hours a day and does a lot of good things. But ultimately, the shortage of PPE equipment is his responsibility.
I’m afraid he was wrong to suggest that doctors have wasted equipment. It looks like he’s trying to shift the debt. It is immoral to ask doctors, nurses and other health professionals to take greater risks than necessary with their lives.
No wonder some of them have said they feel “like lambs for slaughter.” Action must be taken. Bottlenecks must be remedied. More jackets and other essential PPE equipment need to be found.
It is not the first time that no one is in charge of this terrible crisis.