One in four virus medics 'forced to re-use PPE' and 'inadequate stockpiling could date back 11 years'

ONE in four doctors are having to reuse personal protective equipment as it emerged the government failed to stockpile gowns, visors, swabs and body bags.

The protective clothes should only be worn once and then discarded.

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A poll by the Royal College of Physicians found 27 per cent of doctors were re-using their PPE or had done so.

Its president, Professor Andrew Goddard, said: "Many personal protective equipment items are designed for single use and should only be re-used in extreme circumstances.

"That so many people are having to re-use PPE shows how desperate the shortages are.

"This is a truly terrible state of affairs. As a bare minimum we expect our health service to provide the equipment we need to protect ourselves and our patients."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed last night that 98 frontline staff have died.

Others put the figure at 137 and many families said their deaths were caused by a lack of adequate PPE.

In last night's Downing Street briefing, Mr Hancock announced a life assurance scheme to pay £60,000 to the families of those frontline NHS and social care workers who have died in the course of their duties.

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It comes as an investigation found key items of PPE were not included in the government's pandemic stockpile when coronavirus reached the UK.

BBC Panorama reported that gowns, visors, swabs and body bags were left out of the stockpile when it was set up in 2009. Some of the items are now in short supply.

A Government spokesman told the programme the expert committee that advises ministers on new and emerging respiratory virus threats, known as Nervtag, did not recommend stockpiling swabs and body bags.

They said the stockpile was designed for a flu pandemic, and Covid-19 has a higher hospitalisation rate.

However, Panorama reported that Nervtag said gowns, one of the items in shortest supply in the UK, should be purchased last June.

Professor John Ashton, a public health expert who has previously criticised the Government's approach, said the failure to stockpile some items meant NHS staff were working without crucial equipment.

He told the programme: "The consequence of not planning, not ordering kit, not having stockpiles, is that we are sending into the frontline doctors, nurses, other health workers and social care workers without the equipment to keep them safe."




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