NHS medics fighting coronavirus forced to cut up plastic curtains

NHS medics fighting on the coronavirus frontline are forced to cut up plastic curtains and use them as gowns as PPE shortage rages on

  • Health Secretary had previously said 742m units of PPE had been delivered
  • Medics claim they are having to create their own PPE from plastic curtains
  • Intensive care staff being cut because of a lack of PPE available for current staff 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

NHS medics fighting on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic are being force to cut up plastic curtains and use them as gowns, it has been claimed. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had previously said that 742 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) had been delivered during the outbreak, but staff at hospitals across the UK have been left with inadequate resources.

Hospital staff up and down the country have been forced to raid supplies for old theatre scrubs, reusing them day after day.

On Friday London hospitals were told they would not be expecting gown deliveries for the next few weeks after Mr Hancock said medics need to use the same PPE between patients. 

This is while three nurses from Northwick Park hospital in London who posed last month while wearing protective equipment made from bin bags have been diagnosed with Covid-19, highlighting the clear need for more extensive PPE.

Three nurses from Northwick Park hospital in London who posed last month while wearing protective equipment made from bin bags have been diagnosed with Covid 19

A paramedic is picture above wearing a face mask and a plastic apron outside Northwick Park Hospital

So far in the UK there have been 8,931 deaths due to the coronavirus and there have been over 65,000 confirmed cases.

Public Health England is currently reporting the deaths on a daily basis, today there were 980 new confirmed deaths. However the figure could actually be many more, as this is just the number of patients that have died in hospitals from the virus over the last 24 hours.

A report seen by The Mirror detailed that doctors were being measured for aprons made from plastic curtains.

It read:  ‘No immediate stocks of gowns due in national supply chain in the next few days. We are unsighted on when ­deliveries will be.’

Speaking to The Mirror Dr Julia Patterson from advocacy group EveryDoctor said it was ‘unbelievable’ that doctors were being forced to make homemade aprons.


Doctors’ lives are still being put at risk by a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), the British Medical Association warned earlier this week.

More than two thirds of doctors (69 per cent) questioned by the union said they do not feel protected while fighting Britain’s COVID-19 outbreak.

The snapshot poll of 2,000 medics also found some feel forced to come into face-to-face contact with infected patients without the right equipment.

And doctors warned that some of the aprons and goggles they are currently relying on to fight the coronavirus crisis is ‘useless’.

The BMA and other doctors’ unions have repeatedly warned NHS staff will die unless frontline staff are properly equipped with protective gear.

Hospitals have taken to begging for equipment from companies and DIY stores on social media amid a nationwide shortage of PPE.

While one frontline doctor resorted to spending £90 on motorcross goggles to make improvised equipment for his team.

She said the government was ‘placing lives at risk’ by not providing people with sufficient PPE. 

EveryDoctor also said that medics have confided in them that they are using plastic googles from their children’s schools and are also making their own protective masks. 

‘Guidance needs to be revised in line with World Health Organisation recommendations and the funds need to be spent. We are facing a humanitarian crisis’, Dr Julia added.

At a press conference on Friday Mr Hancock told medics to only use the protective equipment they need because it is a ‘precious resource’.

Addressing the nationwide shortage that has left nurses ‘petrified’ to fight the crisis, he claimed: ‘There is enough PPE to go around.’

But he added that the supply of masks, aprons and gloves would only stretch across the UK’s healthcare workforce if it is ‘used in line with our guidance’.

One doctor, working at King’s College Hospital in London today said they were having to cut back on the amount of intensive care staff due to a lack of adequate PPE.

They said staff could run out this weekend and that they were going through over 2,000 gowns per day during the fight against coronavirus. 

The British Medical Association also said that PPE was at a drastically low level in London, where there have been so far been 1,907 deaths from the virus and 13,378 confirmed cases.

Mr Hancock admitted on Friday night that Number 10 was struggling to source additional PPE to help NHS workers fight Britain’s spiralling crisis.

He admitted there was a ‘huge international demand’ for gloves, masks and aprons and warned of a global squeeze in supply.

It comes three weeks after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised there was a ‘massive effort to ensure we have adequate supply of PPE equipment’.

MailOnline has contacted Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care. 

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