A group of almost 4,000 NHS workers have launched a desperate plea to Boris Johnson to ensure they have adequate protective equipment to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
In an open letter to the Sunday Times, the medics have called on the Prime Minister to “protect the lives of the life-savers” and resolve the “unacceptable” shortage of protective equipment.
The group said many medical workers are “putting their lives on the line every day” by treating coronavirus patients without appropriate protection, and they called on Mr Johnson to ensure an adequate supply of masks, safety glasses, gloves, aprons and protective suits.
Intensive care doctors and anaesthetists have told us they have been carrying out the highest-risk procedure, putting a patient on a ventilator, with masks that expired in 2015Letter from 4,000 NHS staff
The letter, signed by 3,963 frontline NHS staff, reads: “Front-line doctors have been telling us for weeks that they do not feel safe at work.
“Intensive care doctors and anaesthetists have told us they have been carrying out the highest-risk procedure, putting a patient on a ventilator, with masks that expired in 2015.”
It adds that paediatricians have warned their stocks of protective glasses would run out in 48 hours, including in special-care baby units.
One acute care worker reported one NHS trust had run out of its stock of masks last weekend, the letter said.
“GPs have told us they feel abandoned; many have been left without any protection for weeks and do not even have simple masks to protect them if a patient comes in with symptoms of Covid-19,” it continued.
The group also said ambulance workers had been arriving for shifts to find no hand sanitiser, masks or wipes were available.
If urgent action is not taken, the doctors said, the public will be put at further risk and medical staff could lose their lives.
Meanwhile, the British Medical Association (BMA) has also written to Downing Street on the issue of personal protective equipment, and called for healthcare workers and their families to be prioritised when it comes to Covid-19 testing “to avoid unnecessary self-isolation”.
The letter states: “Doctors are increasingly contacting us stating that they want to return to work if they and their household is negative for the virus but cannot do so due to a lack of being tested.”
Mr Johnson told the House of Commons during the week that NHS staff would be prioritised for testing, but the BMA letter said: “We are deeply disappointed that this has not yet materialised.”
It added: “Every day that goes by is resulting in increased shortages of frontline staff and we call on you to enable this to happen with immediate effect.”