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Health staff might have to re-use PPE in Northern Ireland, admits minister Swann

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Health Minister Robin Swann during the daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Monday. PACEMAKER BELFAST 20/04/2020

Health Minister Robin Swann during the daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Monday. PACEMAKER BELFAST 20/04/2020

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Health Minister Robin Swann during the daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Monday. PACEMAKER BELFAST 20/04/2020

The Health Minister has refused to rule out the re-use of vital Personal Protective Equipment if the situation calls for it.

Robin Swann said the Department of Health had not yet asked anyone to re-issue or re-use the equipment, but said that could change in the future.

"At this minute in time I will say quite clearly that in Northern Ireland the Department of Health has not asked anyone to re-issue or re-use PPE, but there may come a point when we do so," he said. "I hope it doesn't happen. We're working strenuously across all government departments on our three pillared model on the way we obtain PPE, working strongly with the Department of Finance as to how we get those international supplies in, how we are supported by our colleagues across the UK and also how we're looking to manufacturers here locally.

"But what I will not do is give a reassurance that, as Minister, I cannot stand over.

"That's a hard message and it's not a message many politicians will give but it's one that I want to make clear to the members of our health service. I will do all I can to make sure they have the PPE when they need it, as they need it, but I'll never make them a promise I cannot stand over.

"I am working very closely with the Finance Minister Conor Murphy we are near enough finalised in our order for PPE with China and we're looking forward to that arriving very, very soon."

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Assurance: Charlotte McArdle

Assurance: Charlotte McArdle

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Assurance: Charlotte McArdle

Department of Health Chief Nursing Officer Professor Charlotte McArdle reassured health workers the Department is doing everything possible to make sure demand for PPE is met.

"Large quantities of PPE have been flowing out into the independent sector for the last few weeks to care homes and domiciliary care," she said.

"We have now received positive feedback from the sector, but with the very high level of usage it's important that we continue to work as part of the UK NHS national supply chain. We know we've to keep focusing our efforts on this matter. The Department is working tirelessly to ensure staff are able to provide their roles safety."

Belfast Telegraph