Coronavirus: Army called for delivery of protective equipment to NHS personnel

Henrietta Brewer
March 26, 2020

The letter, signed by 3,963 frontline NHS staff, said many medical workers are "putting their lives on the line every day" by treating infected patients without appropriate protection.

We spoke to Dr Jenny Vaughan, a leading member of the Doctors' Association, who have written to the government to demand better personal protective equipment for medical staff.

Britain brought in the army today to help deliver supplies of protective equipment to healthcare workers after doctors said they felt like "cannon fodder" and pleaded with the government to provide the right kit. "Of course we will enforce and bring in further strong measures if we need to", Hancock told Sky News.

"What our doctors are telling us is that although equipment is arriving, some of it is inadequate, some of it doesn't meet the World Health Organisation guidance".

His comments are a response to a letter from nearly 4,000 NHS workers who called on prime minister Boris Johnson to resolve an "unacceptable" shortage of masks, safety glasses, gloves, aprons and protective suits.

Nurse and mother-of-three Areema Nasreen, 36, who has no underlying health issues, is also in intensive care at Walsall Manor Hospital after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

NHS England said that "millions of other items" of PPE had been delivered in the past few days to hospitals, ambulance trusts and nursing homes, among others.

The coronavirus outbreak has put the national PPE supply chain under significant pressure, as well as facing challenges due to manufacturing slowdown globally, particularly in China, but the NHS was confident enough PPE was available, it just needed distributed faster - with the Army called upon from now to help support these deliveries.

"There have been challenges and I can see that".

During the daily Downing Street briefing on coronavirus, Mr Hancock said: "Many, many people across the NHS are asking for more personal protective equipment (PPE)".

"We are taking urgent action to ensure that dedicated NHS and front-line social service staff - who work tirelessly to fight this epidemic - feel supported".

"The NHS is working closely with the government, NHS Supply Chain and industry to continue to secure additional supplies", the authorities said in a statement.

Emily Lawson, chief commercial officer for the NHS, said: "We need massively increased, urgent volume of these supplies to the frontline in this exceptional set of circumstances".

"Working with our partners, we are now seeing much increased capacity, and a more responsive supply chain to help take us through the coronavirus outbreak".

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