NHS staff could have to clean and reuse PPE as a ‘last resort’, leaked report reveals – The Sun

NHS staff could be forced to reuse PPE as a "last resort", a leaked Public Health England (PHE) report reveals.

It states that protective masks and gowns could need to be cleaned and reused when stocks run low – with some hospitals already beginning to clean single-use gowns to preserve stocks.

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And PHE admit there is currently a "reduced ability to re-supply" PPE during the coronavirus outbreak, according to the BBC who have seen the report.

It is understood that the chief medical officers and chief nurses of the four UK nations recently discussed the crisis.

Following the meeting, a draft document written by PHE and dated April 13 suggested solutions for "acute supply shortages" of PPE.

"These are last-resort alternatives, but, given the current in-country stock and the reduced ability to re-supply, we are suggesting that these are implemented until confirmation of adequate re-supply is in place", it said.

The plans suggested a series of "last-resort arrangements", including buying "building" or "sportswear" eye protection with extensions to cover the side of the eyes if there are no available goggles or face shields.

And PPE recommend using washable laboratory coats and patient gowns where there are no available disposable gowns or coveralls.

The document also suggests re-purposing face masks using various disinfection or sterilisation methods, including steam and UV disinfection.

The report said some of the last-resort measures would need to be reviewed and approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of vaporised hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate certain masks and respirators for use by staff.

The Government must be honest about PPE supplies

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), told the BBC: "This underlines the urgency with which we need this situation sorted.

"The Government must be honest about PPE supplies.

"If (Public Health England) is proposing the reuse of equipment, it needs to be demonstrably driven by science and the best evidence in keeping with international standards, rather than by availability, and with absolutely no compromise to the protection of healthcare workers."


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In a statement, Dr Susan Hopkins, from PHE, said: "PPE is a precious resource and it is crucial that everyone in health and social care has access to the right protective equipment.

"All options are being considered to ensure this, including the safe reuse of items, but no decisions have been made."

An HSE spokesman said: "In line with the Government's PPE strategy, it is right that, where possible, strategies for optimising the supply of PPE should be explored.
"We are discussing with Public Health England ways in which pressure can be eased on the supply chain. This includes potentially reusing certain equipment where it is safe to do so."

PPE is a precious resource

The Government has been under constant pressure to ensure that PPE is distributed to frontline NHS workers.

Photos have shown doctors and nurses wearing rubbish bags around their bodies and mouths as makeshift PPE.

Other medics are said to have bought scrubs on Amazon or had friends knit them protective kit.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock would not apologise over PPE this weekend and denied the Government had been slow to stockpile crucial kit.

He insisted: “We now have record amounts of PPE that’s been put out into the system but until everyone gets the PPE they need then we won’t rest.”

He said it was impossible to set a date by which all frontline workers would get what they needed.

And he added: “It’s impossible because the quest is to get the right PPE to the right people on the front line at the right time across many millions of people across the NHS and social care.

“I’m glad to say that effort is moving in the right direction.”

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Mr Hancock hailed the “enormous effort” of those currently trying to source more gowns.

He said: “They often don’t get thanks, the procurement experts, because they’re not on the front line.

"But, by God, do we need them to make sure that we can get all that PPE.”

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