The Royal College of Physicians has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care raising significant concerns over shortages of PPE (personal protective equipment) putting at risk the health for staff caring for COVID-19 patients, and over a lack of priority testing for NHS workers leading to healthy staff having to stay home while their colleagues struggle.
The letter to Matt Hancock from RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard and RCP Registrar Professor Donal O’Donoghue states:
‘As you’ll be aware there have been significant problems in ensuring that NHS and social care staff have access to the PPE that they need. We are getting reports from across the country that staff either don’t have appropriate PPE or that it is being rationed. We welcome the work that has gone on this week to try and resolve the logistical issues and we know that you are hoping solutions will be found ASAP. We are concerned that NHS and social care staff are currently risking their health to support those in their care, and this must not continue. We need public reassurances that the Government will do everything in its power to ensure that staff have the equipment they need.
‘We also know you’ll be aware of the significant challenge that a lack of priority testing for NHS staff and their households is causing. Healthy staff are finding themselves stuck at home while their colleagues at work struggle. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is that as soon as capacity is ready we get this resolved.’
The letter underlines the commitment of the RCP’s members to ‘do whatever they can in the weeks and months ahead’ while insisting, ‘They just need to know that the UK governments have their backs and ensure that all the protection they need to do their jobs safely is there.’
Professor Goddard and Professor O’Donoghue’s letter puts on record the RCP’s appreciation for everyone who is working around the clock to do their best by patients and the public. It says:
‘There has never been a more challenging time for our health and care service and it’s evident that the system is already feeling a huge impact from COVID-19. It’s inspiring to see people across the NHS, social care, local authorities, government departments and those in devolved governments coming together to get us in the best possible place to respond to this unprecedented health emergency.’