Nurses who wore bin bags due to PPE shortage 'all test positive for coronavirus'
Three nurses who wore bin bags on their shifts due to a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.
Just weeks ago, the nurses had shared a photo of themselves wrapped in clinical waste bags as they issued a plea for proper masks, gowns and gloves at Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow.
The hospital previously declared an emergency situation after all of its critical care beds were filled with patients.
More than 50% of staff working on one ward have now tested positive for coronavirus, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The nurses told the publication in March they had to ‘use their initiative’ by wearing the bin liners, as they had ‘no other choice’ due to the lack of PPE available.
One nurse told how they desperately needed proper equipment, and were already having to treat their colleagues after they had caught the virus from patients.
She continued: ‘There are so many younger people here on ventilation – many with asthma, or diabetes. They can’t stop coughing, they just cough and cough and cough and they can’t help it – but there’s little we can do apart from try to help them breathe.
‘Sometimes the body just gives up, and they die. We can’t save them. The worst part is that we can’t allow their relatives in to say goodbye.’
She added that the nurses had been putting on ‘brave smiles’, but said inside they were all ‘terrified’. Many of them had not seen their families, out of fear they would spread the virus to them.
According to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, just 5.7% of hospital doctors have been off sick due to Covid-19 – but a recent survey conducted by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) suggests this number could be nearer 14.6%.
Royal College of Nursing’s chief executive and general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair also stated that nurses are still being forced to share PPE while working on the fronlines of the pandemic.
In a letter to parliamentary health committee chairman Jeremy Hunt, she said: ‘Our safety and ability to care for patients is being fundamentally compromised by the lack of adequate and correct supplies of vital personal protective equipment and the slow and small-scale roll-out of Covid-19 testing.
‘Our members are facing impossible decisions between their own or their family’s health and their sense of duty.’
A spokesperson for London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Northwick Park Hospital, confirmed that a ‘number’ of staff had tested positive for Covid-19.
They told the Telegraph: ‘We are providing full support to those of our staff members who become unwell, and wish them a swift recovery.’