Doctors on verge of walkout over lack of protective equipment

Doctors and other medical staff are threatening to quit frontline NHS work because they feel there is inadequate safety equipment.

Dr Rinesh Parmar, chair of medics’ group Doctors’ Association UK, told the Guardian that the longer the coronavirus epidemic lasts, “if doctors feel that there is a widespread lack of personal perspective equipment (PPE), then some doctors may feel they have no choice but to give up the profession they love”.

He added that doctors felt “abandoned by not being given the PPE that the World Health Organization recommends”.

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced on Tuesday that more than 11,000 retired NHS staff had agreed to come back to work to help tackle the increased workload on wards, and there is a major volunteer recruitment drive now also underway.

Hancock said that more than 7 million pieces of PPE had been shipped in the past 24 hours and that healthcare workers could consult a helpline if they were missing necessary equipment such as masks.

The NHS is also now in the process of opening a temporary hospital at London’s ExCel conference centre that can house 4,000 people across two wards.

Parmar told the newspaper that he had been messaged by a doctor with an immuno-compromised husband who said: “Without PPE I put him at risk every single day. If this is not sorted soon then I’m off.”

At the weekend, the Royal College of Nursing wrote a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson asking him to “personally intervene” to ensure that nurses and other healthcare staff had access to sufficient PPE.

The college also called for the government to increase the number of Covid-19 tests for nurses displaying possible symptoms of the virus.

Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive of the RCN, said: “Nursing staff across the country are rising to the challenge of this unprecedented situation.

“Our members are coming out of retirement, students interrupting their studies, and nursing staff are deploying from non-clinical settings, all to support the frontline in the battle against COVID-19.

“We ask you to personally intervene and act to ensure enough supply of PPE and testing for COVID-19 is available for all nursing staff and our colleagues across the health and care system.”

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