Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is in such short supply at Royal Preston Hospital nurses have been asked to treat Covid-19 patients wearing a disposable plastic apron and paper mask, Blog Preston has learned.Advertisement
Full protective equipment – consisting of full sleeved overalls and FFP3 fit-tested masks – can now only be used when treating patients in cardiac arrest, hospital sources claim.
One nurse says her family is so concerned about her working conditions her dad has ordered her a mask from Amazon – but it will not be delivered for a month.
She also says some doctors at the hospital are spending around £100 to buy themselves protective masks.
She said: “Patients with suspected Covid-19 are brought in by paramedics wearing full protective suits, then they get handed over to A&E where the nurses are in the thin plastic pinnies they would wear if they were doing a blood test, and a flimsy paper mask.
“The ward I am on has confirmed cases and people are deteriorating quickly. We don’t know fully how it is spread because it is a new virus.
“They are telling us to make sure the patients are wearing masks but they have to take them off to have their dinner.
“I don’t feel comfortable. I think we should be wearing that kit all the time but there just isn’t enough, so we are just wearing a little plastic apron and a surgical mask that goes behind your ears.”
“In Italy the nurses are wearing the full protective equipment all the time and I think we should be doing the same. We have got visors but we are having to share them and they are saying our FFP3 masks are only for cardiac arrests.
“If a patient suddenly goes into cardiac arrest, we would have to get changed to treat them.
“It isn’t just the ward I am on. I have been speaking to nurses in A&E and they are in the same boat. They just don’t know what is coming through the door.”
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Speaking anonymously to Blog Preston, the nurse said people need to be aware how serious the virus is and the pressure NHS nurses are working under.
She said: “We have got young people in hospital who are confirmed cases, people who don’t have any underlying conditions, and when we ask who they have been in contact with they don’t know how they’ve got it.”
Another worried parent contacted Blog Preston, saying: “My daughter is a nurse at RPH.
“She is working in close contact with Covid-19 patients and all they have for protection are paper masks and flimsy gloves.
“They should have proper filter masks, full aprons with sleeves, gloves and eye visors.
“Her and her colleagues are putting their lives at risk to care for patients, she has young children, she is very aware they are all being put at risk.
“We are all being told using a mask doesn’t protect you but that is all our nurses are being given as protection. They deserve better.”
Lancashire has seen 838 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 129 deaths from Covid-19 as of Monday April 6. Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, who operate Preston and Chorley Hospital, have recorded 16 coronavirus-related deaths.
The government on Thursday April 2 updated its PPE guidance to NHS teams.
It stated “any clinician working in a hospital, primary care or community care setting within 2 metres of a suspected or confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 patient should wear an apron, gloves, surgical mask and eye protection, based on the risk.”
In the past two weeks the NHS had delivered 397million pieces of PPE equipment to NHS trusts, GP surgeries, pharmarcies and other healthcare providers.
Chief Medical Officer for England professor Chris Whitty said: “It is absolutely right that frontline staff have the appropriate PPE so they are safe and can have the confidence they need to do their jobs.
“Public Health England has updated their advice to provide additional clarity for staff. This was done with the support of a wide range of professional groups and it has my full support. NHS England and the government are working hard to secure the supply lines in this challenging period so staff have the appropriate equipment.”
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Chief nursing officer for the Royal College of Nursing Ruth May said: “It’s vital our staff are safe and ensure they feel safe and confident that they are being properly protected, as they look after increasing numbers of people during this global health pandemic, which will put health services across the world under pressure.
“This new guidance should give each and every member of staff the confidence that they are wearing the right level of equipment to keep them safe as they care for our loved ones.”
Blog Preston contacted Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for comment but received no response by the time of publication.
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Are you working at Royal Preston Hospital? What has your experience been? You can let us know in the comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org