NHS workers to be told exactly what kit will give them the highest level of protection from Covid-19

NHS workers are to be told exactly what kit will give them the highest level of protection from Covid-19 when officials publish new guidance later.
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Much anticipated guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) is due to be published on Thursday, Government officials confirmed.

There has been an outcry over a lack of PPE as global shortages have led to shortfalls on the NHS front line.

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Staff have reported being "petrified" over a lack of kit while others have been left in tears as they fear for the safety of themselves and their families.

Drive-through testing is becoming the normDrive-through testing is becoming the norm
Drive-through testing is becoming the norm

Some say they have even been threatened with reprisals if they speak out about concerns.

Around 20,000 NHS staff have written to the Prime Minister calling for action over PPE shortages.

The statement, organised by campaigning group EveryDoctor, has more than 34,000 signatures - including 20,000 NHS staff - calling for every health and care worker to have adequate protection.

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EveryDoctor said a lack of PPE was putting workers in danger.

The statement also called for UK guidance to match those from the World Health Organisation, saying that health workers on the ground are not receiving the same level of PPE as recommended by the WHO.

Meanwhile it has emerged the Government is conducting an audit to identify shortages of protective kit

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is working alongside military planners and local resilience forums to ensure there are enough stocks.

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The Health Service Journal reported that the audit requested stock and usage rates across local services including NHS trusts.

A Government spokesman said: "There is enough PPE stock to support authorities that find themselves with high demand. This co-ordination effort will urgently identify any issues so that areas can receive any stock they require quickly.

"We are working closely with planners for local areas to monitor levels of personal protective equipment and ensure councils/authorities have the supplies they need. This work started five days ago.

"The Government has given councils an additional £1.6 billion to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and over the last two weeks we have delivered more than 390 million items of PPE to frontline staff in hospitals, ambulance trusts, GP practices, pharmacists, care homes and hospices."

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Concerns on PPE shortages were highlighted by Tom, a doctor in southern England, who did not want to provide details on where he worked.

He told the PA news agency: "In most areas of the hospital, the advice is to wear a surgical mask and apron when carrying out normal ward activities with Covid patients. In my opinion this is not a reasonable level of protection, I do not feel protected at all when I wear an apron, gloves and surgical mask."

Mark Polin, chairman of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said the issue of PPE is the "number one concern" for staff, and Helen Whyley, director of the Royal College of Nursing Wales, has written to the Health and Safety Executive to ask for it to intervene.