Doc­tors and nurses told to re­use ‘sin­gle use’ PPE

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page - By Laura Donnelly and Bill Gard­ner

MED­I­CAL staff have been told to re­use dis­pos­able per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) and wear aprons if they can­not ob­tain suit­able gowns amid fears that stocks are about to run out.

NHS trusts have been alerted and ad­vised to make com­pro­mises on the use of kit, to en­sure there is enough to go around. The Depart­ment of Health pub­lished guid­ance for doc­tors and nurses after at least 60 trusts warned they were about to run out of key sup­plies.

At least 50 NHS work­ers have died after con­tract­ing coro­n­avirus.

The doc­u­ment says staff should con­sider the “re­use of per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment” even if des­ig­nated by the man­u­fac­turer as a sin­gle-use prod­uct.

It says the Health and Safety Ex­ec­u­tive “recog­nises that some com­pro­mise is needed” to cope with the short­ages.

The guid­ance says in some sit­u­a­tions dis­pos­able gowns could be reused, with sin­gle use of such items re­served for the most high-risk pro­ce­dures.

Plas­tic aprons could be used, along with non-fluid re­pel­lent gowns, if stan­dard kit ran out, the ad­vice says.

Alok Sharma, the Busi­ness Sec­re­tary, ac­knowl­edged the con­cern during No10’s daily brief­ing, say­ing there was a “global short­age”.

Ap­pear­ing be­fore the Com­mons health com­mit­tee, Matt Han­cock, the Health Sec­re­tary, ad­mit­ted the UK was “tight on gowns” but said 55,000 more were about to ar­rive. “I would love to be able to wave a magic wand,” he said.

To­day a sur­vey of 14,000 nurses re­veals more than half of those treat­ing pos­si­ble or con­firmed cases felt pres­surised to work with­out proper PPE.

Of those treat­ing pos­si­ble pa­tients in high-risk ar­eas, 51 per cent re­ported be­ing asked to re­use items of PPE marked “sin­gle use” by man­u­fac­tur­ers, the Royal Col­lege of Nurses said.

Last month the Cabi­net Of­fice hired the ac­coun­tancy firm Deloitte to man­age the pro­cure­ment of PPE from the UK and abroad, it is un­der­stood. The Gov­ern­ment then called to ac­tion UK man­u­fac­tur­ers. But se­nior sources in the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try last night de­scribed the project as a “dis­as­ter” and said firms had strug­gled with com­mu­ni­ca­tion and red tape.

In­stead of iden­ti­fy­ing Uk-based sup­ply chains, sources said, the team at Deloitte pur­sued fac­to­ries in China,

where prices had in­creased and sup­ply was short due to global de­mand.

Sources said part of the prob­lem was that the NHS be­gan buy­ing dis­pos­able kit from China years ago to cut costs, re­sult­ing in UK sup­pli­ers clos­ing.

“It’s been a night­mare to deal with Deloitte,” one fac­tory owner said. “They don’t seem to un­der­stand how sup­ply chains work, and they spent too much time go­ing after China. Why have they barely spo­ken to fac­to­ries in this coun­try who know how to make this kit?”

A Deloitte spokesman said the firm “ac­knowl­edge the clear and press­ing need to man­u­fac­ture PPE”.

Mean­while, a Bri­tish Air­ways crew posted footage yes­ter­day of a 28-hour flight paid for by the Gov­ern­ment to ship 2.5mil­lion items of PPE from China.

Sue Ryder, the pal­lia­tive care provider, said its stocks were run­ning out.

The fam­ily of a doc­tor who died at Royal Berk­shire Hospi­tal after con­tract­ing coro­n­avirus blamed his death on a lack of PPE. Dr Peter Tun, 62, had com­plained to se­nior staff after PPE was al­legedly re­moved from his ward, his son claimed.

A spokesman for Royal Berk­shire NHS Foun­da­tion Trust said the trust had fol­lowed strict guide­lines on PPE.

Hos­pi­tals have be­gun to side­step the Gov­ern­ment to buy from lo­cal fac­to­ries. A Derbyshire-based fash­ion firm re­ceived an or­der for scrubs yes­ter­day from nine hos­pi­tals. Skilled sewing ma­chin­ists, who had been fur­loughed, were re­turn­ing to work this week, the David Nieper fash­ion firm an­nounced.

A spokesman for the Depart­ment of Health and So­cial Care 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, front-line 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 [for] ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances.”

“It is cru­cial the rel­e­vant guid­ance for pro­tec­tive equip­ment is fol­lowed.”

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