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Editor's Viewpoint

Front line health staff need crucial PPE now in battle against coronavirus

Editor's Viewpoint


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'In the circumstances the doctors and nurses have shown remarkable restraint as they have to work with scant supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE) with which to stand any chance of defending themselves against it'

'In the circumstances the doctors and nurses have shown remarkable restraint as they have to work with scant supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE) with which to stand any chance of defending themselves against it'

'In the circumstances the doctors and nurses have shown remarkable restraint as they have to work with scant supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE) with which to stand any chance of defending themselves against it'

Last night thousands of people across Northern Ireland went out on their doorsteps to clap and show their appreciation for the NHS workers who are putting their own health - even lives - on the line to save the rest of us.

To describe them as heroes is merely to state the truth. They go into work each day knowing that they will come literally face to face with people infected by the most threatening virus the world has seen for generations. It is a pandemic against which there is no medical defence as the race to create a vaccine continues.

Inevitably, many of those on the front line of caring for the infected become infected themselves. Currently 10% of NHS staff in the Belfast Trust area are self-isolating after showing signs that they may have contracted the virus.

In the circumstances the doctors and nurses have shown remarkable restraint as they have to work with scant supplies of personal protection equipment (PPE) with which to stand any chance of defending themselves against it.

But their patience is running out and Health Minister Robin Swann is coming under increasing pressure to turn his reassuring words on supplies and testing kits into action.

As far as many health workers are concerned, the promises of more equipment and more tests are not manifested on the ground.

While acknowledging that there are many challenges facing the health authorities, surely they can protect front line staff by giving them proper equipment in sufficient quantities and carry out tests to see which of the nurses or doctors are infected and which are able to continue working.

For we have to remember that these NHS staff have families who they are concerned about and who they don't want to infect. Indeed, some staff are deliberately staying away from loved ones for that very reason.

In just three days Northern Ireland is expected to see the beginning of a two-week surge in coronavirus cases, with perhaps 500 new hospital admissions each week and maybe a total of 3,000 deaths, yet we still don't appear to be able to provide the most elementary equipment for those at the coalface in the NHS.

We don't need to hear more statistics or excuses on why we cannot procure sufficient quantities of PPE or testing kits. All they do is obscure the fundamental problems facing the province at this time. We need clarity, but most of all we need immediate action before the crisis deepens further.

Belfast Telegraph