NURSES are still being forced to share personal protective equipment, reuse masks or buy their own, MPs have been told.
The chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Dame Donna Kinnair wrote to MPs demanding nurses in all healthcare settings are protected.
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Dame Donna submitted evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee saying that nurses are not seeing enough of the millions of pieces of PPE sent out to hospitals.
She said: “Nursing staff are at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Our safety and ability to care for patients is being fundamentally compromised by the lack of adequate and correct supplies of vital personal protective equipment (PPE) and the slow and small-scale roll out of COVID-19 testing.”
“Our members are facing impossible decisions between their own or their family’s health and their sense of duty.
“The distribution and adequacy of PPE has led nursing staff to share equipment, buy their own supplies or to reuse single-use PPE.”
The submission from the RCN said: “Due to inadequate supplies of PPE for staff, there are reports that members have been required to re-use equipment.
Nurses were also having “to use equipment previously marked as out of date, to clean down old gowns with alcohol wipes and to use alternative equipment donated for protection.”
The shocking revelations that medical staff are having to reuse PPE, which compromises their effectiveness, comes after weeks of NHS workers crying out for more protection.
A spokesman for No10 said today that over 600millions items of PPE have been sent to hospitals all over the country – 30million were sent out yesterday alone.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said repeatedly there are no problems with supply levels, but they are working on ensuring proper distribution.
The RCN have said there is a disproportionate focus on getting to NHS hospitals, but nurses in care homes and GPs surgeries are being left with “either no or poor access to PPE, and no hand sanitiser.”
One care home boss burst into tears last week because they were only sent 300 face masks, but her workers visited 24,000 homes a week.
People have vented on Twitter about the lack of protection.
One nurse wrote: “I’ll be at work when you all #ClapForBoris providing essential care and support for elderly vulnerable people. You clap if you want to, I’ll be too busy providing personal care, with inadequate PPE.”
Two nurses, both mothers in their 30s, died last week after being infected with coronavirus.
Only last month, medical staff were wearing bin bags because they did not have enough PPE.
PHE guidance says in some circumstances a long-sleeved disposable fluid-repellent gown, gloves and eye protection must be worn too, Public Health England guidance said.