Portsmouth NHS staff have 'nowhere near enough' personal protective equipment, fear campaigners
CONCERNS have been raised about whether Portsmouth NHS staff have enough protective gear to see them through the coronavirus pandemic.
Currently, approximately 10,000 tests are taking place each day in the UK, with health secretary Matt Hancock pledging 100,000 tests per day by the end of this month.
But while Conservative politicians insist patients are receiving the tests they need, there are fears that frontline NHS staff aren’t being tested, and don't have the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).
Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, says he’s heard first-hand concerns about the lack of PPE in the city.
He said: ‘Example after example from the frontline, health bodies, trade unions and countless constituents suggests that nowhere near enough frontline workers are being tested for coronavirus and an undersupply of PPE is causing people to go without or rely on makeshift alternatives.
‘The government owes the brave people on the frontline proper safety equipment and testing; the nation’s safety relies upon it.
‘In a crisis, there is no room for chaos and no excuse for delay.
‘An immediate turnaround is needed on PPE equipment and testing if we are to combat Covid-19.’
According to NHS England, frontline staff should be supplied with a fluid repellent facemask, apron, gloves and eye protection.
Public Health England’s new guidance says PPE gear can be worn for an entire shift, as long as it's safe to do so.
But Portsmouth trade unionist Jon Woods says the government’s response to the virus outbreak was ‘far too late and chaotic’.
He said: ‘Even during February, the government could have chosen to increase supplies of personal protective equipment and ramp up facilities for mass testing.
‘Protecting the welfare of workers, homeless people and those in poverty must be become the government’s top priority.’
Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, Penny Mordaunt, insists everyone who needs a coronavirus testing kit will be given one.
She said: ‘Every patient that has needed a test has been able to have one.
‘But we also want to test key workers and others, to see if they can go back to work if they are self-isolating and – through different tests – understand what is happening with the population at large.’