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Public support a boost during dispiriting PPE problems, leading nurse says

‘The public support throughout this pandemic has been absolutely fantastic’.

Public support for healthcare workers has been a boost during the “dispiriting” problems with protective equipment, a leading nurse has said.

Mike Adams, director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) for England, said there was “no way we can’t be disappointed” with how the Government has managed PPE during the crisis.

He told the PA news agency: “There are still concerns about PPE, about access to equipment across all our settings so not just in hospitals, but in care homes, in hospices, in community district nurse settings, in mental health teams.

“We’ve seen reports of equipment being withdrawn after it’s sent and that is so dispiriting to all the people who are working so hard to keep their staff safe.”

The Government has faced criticism over the supply of PPE during the pandemic, and has instigated new ordering systems as well as deploying members of the armed forces to help distribute equipment.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Mr Adams continued: “There’s no doubt now and over the last three or four weeks an incredible amount of work has been done to try and improve the situation.

“But if there has been pandemic planning by previous governments up to this point, and part of that involves stockpiling appropriate PPE equipment so it could be rolled out as and when was needed, that just hasn’t happened.

“So there’s no way we can’t be disappointed with the response. And still, there is equipment being delivered that is not fit for purpose.”

Tuesday marks International Nurses Day, to commemorate the birthday of Florence Nightingale 200 years ago.

The famous nurse’s image and a message of thanks will be projected from Parliament on to her place of work, St Thomas’s Hospital, and members of the public were asked to shine a light from their windows to mark the day.

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An image of Florence Nightingale is projected on to Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London (Victoria Jones/PA)

An image of Florence Nightingale is projected on to Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London (Victoria Jones/PA)

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An image of Florence Nightingale is projected on to Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London (Victoria Jones/PA)

Mr Adams thanked the public for their support over the Covid-19 outbreak.

He said: “The clap every Thursday night has been a real boost to people working in really tough conditions at the moment.

“The public support throughout this pandemic has been absolutely fantastic to the nursing profession, but also the wider healthcare professionals and social care workers.”

As well as the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, 2020 marks the World Health Organisation’s year-long celebration of nursing and midwifery.

Game Of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, who is a long-time supporter of the RCN, has also shown her support for nurses.

She said: “I have joined nurses in celebrating this day and their work for several years. Today will be very different, to reflect the pressures and risks they are running so that we can all stay safe.”

Mr Adams urged members of the public who wanted to show their support to take care and socially distance.

He added: “Just be sensible and thinking everything you’re doing, ‘is this going to help those frontline workers that have committed so much into this at this point?’

“It has been really hard, and our healthcare staff are tired and emotionally drained at the moment, and if we can avoid them going through this again that would be really appreciated.”

When asked what the Government could do for nurses in the pandemic, Mr Adams said: “We want them to continue to keep thinking about every decision they make is going to have an impact on a nurse doing their job, whether it’s around easing lockdown, whether it’s about their PPE access, whether it’s about their future pay.

“These are all things that will have an impact on those nurses that people are clapping every Thursday night.”

PA