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Independents' Day

PPE problems 'completely resolved' for hospitals 'and other care workers'

The deputy chief medical officer has said that the problems around protective equipment have been ’completely resolved’, so that hospitals and ’other workers in the care system’ will receive adequate supplies.

Dr Jenny Harries told the daily coronavirus briefing that ’the country has a perfectly adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the moment’.

She said that encompasses ’quite a wide range of different gowns, masks, gloves, all sorts of things’.

However, it was unclear whether ’other workers in the care system’ included GPs.  Pulse has contacted the Department of Health and Social Care to clarify.

Dr Harries admitted that there had been concerns on a local basis.

Pulse revealed that the majority of GPs didn’t have an adequate supply of protective equipment by the start of this week, and their concerns were exacerbated by receiving face masks that had a label stuck over their 2016 expiry date.

But Dr Harries told press gathered at the Prime Minister’s briefing: ’There have been some differential deliveries in some areas which has caused a degree of concern recently. That is completely resolved now and in fact what we’ve done in the last 36 hours is set up an entirely separate PPE oversight and supply chain which allows hospitals - but also we need to be very clear there are other workers in the care system who are equally important - and will allow that appropriate management to ensure that the supply and demand is there.

’We do need to be really clear that this is an unprecedented health event for this country and so it is not unlikely that we will have found a pressure in the early days where an individual hospital, trust or organisation has had to suddenly ramp up its demand.’

She added: ’But that supply is there and running alongside that is a call out to arms - a bit like ventilators and testing as well - to make sure that we are exploring every avenue and opportunity for keeping those supplies coming through.’

Readers' comments (21)


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  • We have six masks per room. So I am saving them in case someone comes in by mistake with respiratory symptoms. Most people are dealt with on phone but those who do need seeing I am seeing but trying not to touch unless necessary. I am 59 and have had a quintuple bypass and although fit I am a little worried.

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  • DrRubbishBin

    Important Professor organising our national response "..I wasn't aware we had health care outside hospitals. Could someone look into that please"

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  • They want us visiting the sick Covid cases-
    I have experienced this today-( LONDON GP)
    A pregnant patient, high fever and short of breath- couldn’t get a response from 111 yesterday and finally they told her to call her GP. I visited her this morning- assessed her: temp 39.5. sats 94 p 106-
    I Even did bloods- got them back a few hours later.....
    CRP 110 with normal white cell count- was sure it was Covid
    Discussed with med registrar in local big LONDON hospital - “ send her to A&E they’ll triage and call me if we’re needed”- I was gob snacked- pretty sure you’ll be needed mate! I called A&E- to confirm this was the right route....- it was! they have a red and a green zone and she could “go wait in the red zone”. The 999 ambulance call to send her to A&E had us on hold for 1 hour and 45 minutes. I then had to leave to see the next patient- she sent me a message that’s she’s still in A& E waiting to be seen having taken a taxi as couldn’t get through to blue light 999 ambulance! This is the reality! The service is not functioning- god help anyone having a stroke- never mind Covid death rates - what are cardiovascular death rates??? No one left to do normal stuff- all overwhelmed already!

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  • Vinci Ho

    (1) This is one of the few times I have to agree with the prime minister politically . Collectivism is the only hope in here . Nature is sending us a message(more a lesson actually) that certain ways we have been conducting our lives have to be changed ?? Perhaps this is natural selection , perhaps not?And we , human beings , obviously have some genuine soul-searching when this is over , whenever it is over .
    (2) We are where are . It is irresponsible and meaningless to carry on arguing against each other whose ‘theory’ is correct about Covid-19 e.g. where did it come from in the very first place ? Does face mask work ?
    The fact is we are still learning about the behaviour of this ‘perfect virus’ and we can only adhere to the phenomena we can all see globally . Nothing more , nothing less . At this point of the story, all countries are converging eventually to two words ‘lockdown’ and ‘isolation’ regardless of liberal or autocratic political system .
    (3) The phenomena we all can witness in China and Italy is beyond denial . Whether we were early or late in our responses, is now irrelevant as far as moving forward is concerned. We can only utilise the resources we have in our hands right now and try the best to help each other provided that we have not been ‘struck down’ . That is why I referred to a war mentality and of course , many of us including myself ( 55 years old ordinary citizens)are still young to have real life experiences compared to our parents .
    (4) Yes , more will die not just because of those directly caused by Covid-19 , but also the collateral damages as our NHS is inundated by these critically ill Covid-19 patients confined in hospital beds , while patients with other serious medical conditions have no where to be treated .
    Primary care and general practitioners has undoubtedly a vital role in saving the country in this crisis . But the government and its senior NHS leaders must climb down their high horses and provide all the means we need on frontlines unreservedly to help all vulnerable patients who will be thrown into a ‘jail sentence’ for at least 3 months . The complications of this drastic measure is far-reaching , pervasive and omnipresent, saying the least .
    (5) If the financial tsunami in 2008 was a consequence of extreme neoliberalism and globalisation rebuked by reflexive populism and protectionism( so we have Mr Trump , Brexit), Covid-19 has naturally triggered an ‘inevitable’ protectionism and isolationism(ironically instigated by China , one big beneficiary of globalisation pushing One Belt , One Road )swinging the pendulum further to an unimaginable end with desolation and decimation . The virus has clearly no political preference.
    Perhaps the irony has reminded us once again , we human beings do not really want to the lessons.
    Perhaps , this is the unique ,historic time and opportunity to set aside our differences and disputes fuelled by arrogance and bigotry to stop these ‘actions and inactions’ against each other .
    Perhaps , there is a brave new world with a ‘New Order’ beyond this crisis .

    I apologise that if this is too long a comment but this will be the single , most serious challenge in my whole medical career when I look back at the end of life . Cannot say this more lightly

    And for all my honourable and brave colleagues,
    Valar morghulis
    Valar dohaeris
    May the force be with you
    Every effort one gives will count ...........
    So say we all .........

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  • Vinci Ho

    A collection of well-balanced arguments if you still have time to read and not exhausted by Covid-19🧐😎

    Coronavirus: What could the West learn from Asia?

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  • Dear Dr.Ho

    It is unacceptable for frontline PRIMARY CARE staff to have inadequate FFP protection. Furthermore expecting frontline staff to engage in high risk visiting activity flies in the face of advice of social distancing. One potentially becomes a vector to transmit a virus of which information is still being obtained.
    Nobody in primary care is being reassured by the government's comments. Why does Dr.Harries specifically not mention GPs but instead uses the term 'other workers'. Who are these? Why the ambiguity? On the contrary we should ask questions and challenge the government because if we do not we and our patients will suffer. All too easy to say we should all be united when clearly we are treated with disdfain with stickers being put on expired boxes of masks of limited value as a prime example.

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  • Thanks Vinci for the information. We are seeing some of the worst human behaviours now. The NHS was stretched before this with no give and yet they want more from us. Instead of improving conditions and equipment they have chosen to add more laws and bureaucracy to pretend they are doing things to improve standards much like the not so smart smart motorways.Now we are reaping what they showed. The media is a big problem, exaggerating and scaremongering to generate news and money for them, especially the daily mail with selective photography. Hope everyone gets proper PPEs to do their jobs or Gross Negligence Manslaughter charges for them. What goes round comes round.

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  • The problems with GPs visiting likely COVID19 patients are many. If you check BP or listen to the chest at home, you equipment are contaminated but you take the same equipment to the next patients you visit.
    Your clothes will be contaminated as well putting both the GP and the next patients at risk. Is anyone interested at all?

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