Doctors’ Union – scathing about government in frontline COVID-9 fight
By TruePublica Editor: Reading the Doctors Association UK website is like reading a historical account from some sort of post-apocalyptic event in the human experience. In the space of less than ten days, the horror stories of being a doctor in the frontline within the NHS, makes you realise just how the government have failed on every level possible to deal with a pandemic that they knew years ago was coming and had tested the service for. The fact that the results of that test were very negative was the reason why its recommendations (more ITC beds, PPE and ventilators) was buried. The then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt actively rejected stockpiling of PPE for health and social care workers on the ground of cost and stocks never increased from that day to when the pandemic became a deadly reality.
NHS staff have told of being forced to buy protective kit from DIY stores as the supply scandal shaming the Government deepens.
Data from a tracker app developed to assess front line shortages in the war on Covid-19 showed only 52% of doctors doing high-risk procedures had the right long-sleeved gowns. And 38% of respondents to NHSppe App, set up by Doctors’ Association UK, had no eye protection at all.
Ongoing PPE shortages – and doctors forced to take matters into their own hands.
There are concerns that the figures released by Matt Hancock to suggest that 19 healthcare workers have sadly died because of COVID-19 – but this may not be a true reflection if we take into account Allied Health Professionals and carers.
DAUK teams up with crowdfunders to deliver 45,000 masks and 500 gowns to the frontline
DAUK recently launched a free app in partnership with medical app developers Messly, for doctors to register gaps in PPE supply on the frontline, and this has generated over 1000 needs in just one week.
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NHS Hero Support is a national, not-for-profit organisation set up at the end of March to supply PPE during the coronavirus health crisis, staffed entirely by volunteer professionals.
Together 35000 FFP3 masks and 500 gowns have been delivered to the frontlines.
Nurses are being forced to hold their breath while they treat coronavirus patients due to a lack of protective equipment
Dr Rinesh Parmar, of the Doctors’ Association UK, said 43% of doctors who his organisation surveyed have no eye protection at all and 20% don’t have them for the most severe and high risk procedures. He had also heard from doctors who have said they are having to reuse masks and they should be single-use only.
He added: “Nurses are doing some of these high-risk procedures because they’re unsure whether the masks they’ve been provided with is going to offer them adequate protection.”
He said: “Sadly doctors have been forced to take matters into their own hands.”
He claimed that there have been reports of doctors going to testing centres, only to be turned away.
Asked on whether the NHS would cope, he said: “We’ve gone into this pandemic in a position of relative weakness.”
Doctors bullied and shamed into not wearing appropriate protective equipment
Doctors are being “bullied and shamed” into treating patients with Covid-19 despite not having the masks, gowns and eyewear they need to protect themselves from the virus, frontline medics have said.
Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, the president of the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) said: “Doctors are dying. Nurses are dying. We are devastated, and can no longer stand by and watch as more dedicated colleagues lose their life.”
72% of doctors cannot get hold of an FFP3 mask when they need one.
77% report shortages of long-sleeved gowns.
43% cannot always use a visor or goggles when they need them
The lack of safe PPE will be this government’s legacy
It is widely reported from the front line that PPE is in very short supply, and that what is available does not adequately protect from infection. Deliveries do not arrive and hotlines that have been set up do not work. In desperation, many health and social care workers have taken it upon themselves to source their own equipment from DIY stores, and some have made agreements with local secondary schools to make visors on 3D printers. This situation is wholly unacceptable.
It is the duty of the employer to ensure that the working environment is safe for employees. As a trade union we contend that the current situation in health and social care with respect to COVID-19 and PPE is not safe for either patients or workers. We demand to know where this equipment (PPE) is, in what quantities, and when and how it will be delivered to the front line.
It has been recently reported that in 2016 then-Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt, now chair of the Health Select Committee rejected stockpiling of PPE for health and social care workers on the ground of cost. It is clear that the health of the nation has been put firmly behind the strength of the economy in terms of government priority.