NHS Facing a Shortage of One Billion Pieces of Personal Protective Equipment

A medical professional in PPE, including gloves, an apron and a face mask as a precautionary measure against Covid-19, pushes a patient, also wearing a facemask, as he lays on a bed, inside St Thomas' Hospital in north London, on April 1, 2020, as life in Britain continues during the …
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images

A report commissioned by the British government has found that the Nation Health Service (NHS) is facing a shortage of up to a billion items of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The grim figures were laid out in a 90-day projection that was modelled by the American management consulting firm McKinsey. The problems caused by the mass shortages of PPE will be compounded by a lack of quality in the equipment that is available to healthcare workers, government sources warned.

“There is ever-growing concern about PPE because the quality of Public Health England [PHE] guidance has been woeful,” a senior Whitehall insider told The Times.

“Every day we run out of something, the advice is downgraded and we are now running at standards lower than [recommended by] the International Red Cross and the World Health Organization [WHO]. We have always been so smug about ourselves as a developed country, but now we have nations we send aid to watching us in horror,” the source lamented.

In response to widespread reports of shortages, the government has eased up regulations on PPE material, removing the CE mark requirement that signifies the product meets the standards for the European Economic Area (EEA).

There are concerns that the easing of the restrictions will lead to healthcare workers falling ill as a result of faulty equipment imported from countries like China — as has been the case in European countries like Spain.

“The doctors on the front line don’t have time to check the medical journals to ensure that what they are being provided with is safe,” said an NHS employee.

To date, some 100 workers for the NHS have died as a result of contracting the Chinese coronavirus. A study conducted by the Doctors’ Association UK found that hundreds of doctors have been forced to work without eye protection, masks and gowns as a result of the shortages.

In Devon, the NHS is so light on protective equipment that it sent out a call to local businesses to send boiler suits, lab coats and painting suits to hospitals.

Despite the widespread shortages, companies throughout the United Kingdom are continuing to export millions of pieces of PPE to nations in the European Union. Businesses claim that the government failed to respond to their offers to help, forcing them to sell the equipment to hospitals in Germany, Spain, and Italy.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

 

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