According to Matt Hancock there are sufficient supplies of PPE equipment around. But the evidence from NHS staff contradicts that.
A third of UK surgeons and surgical trainees do not believe they have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in their trust, with wide regional variations, a survey has found.
More than half of those who responded (57%) to the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) of England survey said there have been shortages in the past 30 days.
The survey of nearly 2,000 surgeons and trainees showed a postcode lottery when it comes to PPE. More than half (52%) of respondents in the Thames Valley said they now have access to adequate PPE, but that dropped to just over a third (34.7%) in the North West.
In London, which has been at the heart of the outbreak in the UK, a third (33.4%) of respondents said they do not believe their trust has an adequate supply of PPE.
^ survey was carried out after improved PPE guidance was issued by NHS England at the beginning of April ^
Sue Hill, RCS vice president, said:
The guidance is now much improved, but we have consistently said that advice about what protection to use for which medical procedures is rendered meaningless if the kit doesn’t reach the front line.
More than half of those responding to the survey also expressed scepticism about their chances of getting a Covid-19 test for themselves, should they need one.
Confidence was particularly low in the East of England, where 75% of surgeons said they believed they would not get access to a test.
One surgeon, who responded to the survey said:
The lack of mask wearing in general patient contact has been scandalous.
I caught Covid-19 from a patient on the ward who was pre-symptomatic but later tested positive. He infected at least six staff. One of my colleagues remains very sick from this.
I was denied a test even on appeal. We were ‘spoken to’ for wearing simple masks and gloves in general ward areas. We agreed to submit to authority but strongly disagreed that there was no risk.
The RCS is urging its members not to risk their health, and that of their patients, by carrying out risky procedures without adequate PPE
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