PPE Shortage: UK Doctors Face Hard Decisions On Whether To Treat Patients

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    Dr.Scorpiowoman Golden Member

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    Leading doctor highlights fears over updated coronavirus PPE advice for medics


    Paramedics and staff at the Royal Liverpool university hospital wearing various items of PPE. Several hospitals are expecting to run out out of protective gowns in the coming days.

    Doctors may on Monday have to make difficult choices about whether to treat coronavirus patients when faced with inadequate personal protective equipment, a leading doctor has warned.

    With supplies of gowns running critically low in some areas of the UK, Dr Alison Pittard, the dean of the faculty of intensive care medicine, said her members were “concerned about having to make those sorts of decisions” and would have to take decisions on their own merit potentially on Monday.

    She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme her organisation was “very concerned about the update to the PPE guidance” as it was the first time advice on PPE has been given based to a shortage, rather than best practice.

    The change, first reported by the Guardian, means fluid-resistant gowns, rather than fluid-repellent gowns, can be used.

    Several hospitals are expecting to run out out of protective gowns in the coming days, with the situation worsened by the delay of a consignment from Turkey that was meant to arrive on Sunday night.

    Chris Hopson, the leader of NHS Providers, which represents hospital bosses, urged the government to stop talking up individual deliveries of PPE until they had landed and been checked as it was known from “bitter experience” that they might not arrive or be usable.

    Responding for the government, Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, said first he expected the Turkey delivery to arrive on Monday and later that he was “hopeful” that it would come.

    He said there had been a “singular effort across government to get this equipment” and highlighted the global competition for resources. “We are working hard to get it to where it’s needed.”

    In relation to the Turkish consignment of about 400,000 gowns, he said there had been “challenges at the Turkish end with getting the relevant paperwork” and said a further “25m gowns from China” were expected soon.

    Dowden also defended the government from criticism over its response to coronavirus, after it emerged over the weekend Boris Johnson had not attended five emergency Cobra meetings at the start of the crisis.

    He said it was “normal and proper” for more junior ministers to chair the gathering and argued it was not the time to look back with “perfect 20/20 hindsight”.

    The culture secretary declined to acknowledge it had been wrong to allow mass gatherings such as Cheltenham festival to go ahead at the beginning of March, saying the government had listened to “all the scientific advice” about taking the right steps at the right time.

    With ministers now focused on the way through the crisis, Dowden struck a cautious note about when the lockdown will be ended.

    Some senior cabinet ministers have been pressing for an early end to the shutdown, but Johnson is understood to be cautious about relaxing restrictions too early and risking a second peak that requires another hard response.

    Dowden signalled this was likely to be the approach, saying: “We said right at the beginning of this, and the prime minister said, he expected the peak to last around three months. What’s happened is kind of consistent with that.”


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