An explosive BBC Panorama Documentary on the 27th revealed that gloves were being counted individually to reach a figure of 1 billion items of PPE provided to the NHS. The Tories have come under fire from all sides due to the significant lack of adequate Personal Protective Equipment available to NHS staff dealing with COVID-19 patients. Over 100 members of NHS staff have now succumbed to the virus, and many have said they are terrified of going to work due to a lack of protective equipment.
The Government insists they are dealing with the crisis, recently announcing over 1 billion items of PPE had been acquired for the NHS. When the breakdown of those items was investigated it was revealed that cleaning equipment, detergent, clinical waste bags, and paper towels were being defined as PPE, which inflated these figures, and that over half of the items provided were individual gloves.
According to Panorama, a deficiency was also revealed in the NHS’s existing “Pandemic Stockpile” that has been in existence since 2009. Of the 33 million FFP-3 rated protective masks listed as being present in this stockpile, only 12 million have been distributed to staff, with the other 21 million remaining unaccounted for. A number of items deemed necessary for the stockpile by the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), including gowns, viral testing swabs, and body bags were entirely absent from the stockpile.
A joint statement by Trade Unions representing healthcare workers stated that “the lack of personal protective equipment for frontline workers has become a crisis within a crisis.” and that “Workers are being exposed to unreasonable and unnecessary risk” resolving “Key workers deserve better. They are risking their own health and safety for us.”