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Almost 1,000 people have signed a petition that urges NHS trusts in Essex to use protective equipment that is in line with guidance from the World Health Organisation when dealing with coronavirus patients.
The petition was launched by Save Southend NHS and warns that nurses and doctors are being asked to treat COVID-19 patients using only a plastic pinny and a loose-fitted surgical face mask.
This goes against the recommendations made by the UN through the World Health Organisation, which says that health staff should wear a full gown and visor when managing suspected and confirmed coronavirus patients.
A spokesman for the campaign group said: “We have never needed NHS workers more as we fight the spread of coronavirus. The UK Government is not adhering to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guidelines on personal protection equipment (PPE).
“This means hundreds of thousands of NHS workers do not have adequate masks, goggles, gowns and gloves as we tackle this escalating crisis.
“A lack of PPE is putting workers in danger and their families too. It is reported that at least three NHS doctors have died after contracting coronavirus and many more staff are in isolation, unable to work.
“Public Health England are risking the lives of the very people they expect to save us. Full WHO guidance must be followed immediately. We urge the public to write to their MP and sign the petition.”
The group has also warned that some hospitals including those in the Mid and South Essex Hospital group are already experiencing shortages of equipment and it is being rationed for only the most necessary patient intervention.
It comes as the presidents of the Doctors’ Association UK, Dr Samantha Batt Rawden, has said: “Doctors across the frontlines are extremely concerned about the lack of personal protective equipment. Many have told us they have tried to raise concerns through the proper channels but have been warned against taking these concerns further.”
A spokesman for the NHS said: “We are absolutely committed to keeping our staff safe.
“We are fully complying with the Public Health England guidance on the use of Personal Protective Equipment which has been developed by expert clinicians and is being followed by the whole of the NHS.
“Like all other hospitals, we have staff working around the clock to ensure that we have sufficient supplies of PPE available for our staff.”