'My NHS kit is only fit for making sandwiches'

A London paramedic says he does not feel protected while treating patients with suspected coronavirus.

3/31/2020 4:32:00 PM

'It feels like every day I'm exposing myself and potentially my family to this virus' - London paramedic

A London paramedic says he does not feel protected while treating patients with suspected coronavirus.

Image captionOne paramedic (not pictured) says the apron staff have to wear is the"thinnest thing you can imagine"A paramedic in the London Ambulance Service (LAS) has claimed the kit workers have been given to protect them from coronavirus would be more suitable for people making sandwiches.

George Clooney on George Floyd killing: racism is America's pandemic Are you taking part in US protests after the death of George Floyd? Statistics watchdog: ministers still misleading public on coronavirus tests

The south London medic, who did not want to be identified, said the basic apron, gloves and masks were not sufficient protection from infection."It feels like every day I'm exposing myself and potentially my family to this virus," he told the BBC.

LAS has been contacted for comment.In a document seen by the BBC, LAS has told its paramedics to wear basic PPE - a plastic apron, gloves and a surgical mask - for most call-outs.The advanced PPE -including a white boiler suit, FFP3 mask, and goggles- is reserved only for confirmed cases of coronavirus, and in situations where paramedics have to perform invasive procedures such as full CPR.

Chest compressions - during which breath is forced from a patient's body - alone are not considered invasive enough to warrant advanced PPE, in the LAS guidance.paramedics should wear a full gown, which covers their arms and below their knees, when helping patients who might have the virus into an ambulance and taking them to hospital.

'Coughing over us'But the LAS paramedic, in his 30s, said aprons distributed to him and his colleagues are"like something someone would make a sandwich with, someone serving you a sandwich"."It's the thinnest thing you can imagine and it covers maybe 30% of your uniform," he added.

In one recent example, the paramedic said he was carrying a critically-unwell patient with suspected coronavirus from their home to his ambulance."When wheeling them outside, the bottom half of the apron flew up and stuck to my face. One - I couldn't see where I was going. And two - all of the virus that was likely on my apron was now on my face. My crew mate had to pull it down," he said.

He said he could not clean his face until he was at the hospital about half an hour later.He added that the"majority" of patients the LAS is treating at the moment have symptoms of coronavirus -"coughing over us while we assess them" - but because testing is predominantly only happening for people already in hospital, they are not counted as confirmed cases.

Chris Whitty 'vetoed lowering of coronavirus alert level' Trump's bizarre photoshoot was all because he was so furious about being ridiculed for hiding in a bunker Olympic legend Michael Johnson urges athletes to speak out over George Floyd death and says Trump divides America

"We are surrounded by it now and we're not sufficiently protected," he said, adding that he was worried ambulance workers were helping to spread the virus.Media playback is unsupported on your deviceMedia captionCoronavirus: The kit being used to treat patients

The chief operating officer for LAS, Khadir Meer, said the safety, health and wellbeing of staff was an"absolute top priority, and we do not expect crews to attend people with possible or confirmed Covid-19 without the correct protective equipment".

He added there were stocks of PPE"for all those who need them" and that the level of protection LAS workers should wear was in line with"the latest guidance" from Public Health England.Heather Lawrence, chair of LAS's NHS trust board, said in a Facebook comment to LAS staff, seen by the BBC, that the aprons were"inadequate".

"I agree [with workers' concerns] that the aprons are inadequate in general and particularly for the environment you work in, and I believe that this will be resolved as soon as possible," she said.But the paramedic said as soon as possible was"too late" because many of his colleagues have already contracted the virus, including at least one who has had to have ventilator treatment.

He said even if the guidance was updated soon, in the meantime crews were still going out"with inadequate PPE". Read more: BBC News (UK) »

So true! Pret workers are better prepared! So guess the govt is waiting for the containers to arrive from Asia sometime soon. My big worry is who will disrobe the NHS staff? How & where will the PPE be disposed of? BorisJohnson By the way as a ”key operatives“ we are on high risk to be infected by covid-19 without n95 mask at work such a meat industry This is sad only Employer should be legally responsible for providing proper p.p.e inc. n95 mask due covid19 stayhomes

ME AND MY CONSTITUENTS ONLY CONCERN IS MAKING 💰 OUR ONE TRUE GOD ! GET OVER IT $ U C K E R $ What has happened to the millions of ppe the government said they have sent out My wife works in an NHS hospital and in one ward staff had 1 pair of goggles, that's right 1 pair, to use when dealing with a Covid-19 patient, a hearty clap doesn't protect or save lives, government need to sort this out, NOW!!!

NHS worker may be coronavirus 'patient zero' in biggest hotspot outside LondonAN NHS worker could be “patient zero” in the UK’s worst hit coronavirus hotspots outside of London. The staff member is thought to have unknowingly spread the killer virus to othe…

Coronavirus: One in four NHS doctors 'sick or in isolation'Around a quarter of NHS doctors are off work because they are sick or in isolation, the head of the Royal College of Physicians has said just shows they haven't had the right ppe for longer than is necessary too many people feel obligated rather than looking after themselves first it's not right Stay strong and together we can get through from this. Best wishes. This is un-acceptable, some might not get better!! They should not be risking their lives to do their job, get the PPE and testing sorted NOW government!!

Lidl are delivering free bags of fruit and veg to NHS workers in hospitalsSupermarket chain Lidl are delivering free bags of fruit and vegetables to our hardworking NHS staff in hospitals nationwide.

NHS nurse stranded in Asia desperate to fly home to UK to help fight coronavirusRebecca Knox, 25, had flown from Glasgow to Asia in February to begin the solo trip of a lifetime before theoutbreak forced her journey to a halt

“I’m an NHS critical care nurse looking after coronavirus patients”“It’s like being called up to fight in an invisible war”

Coronavirus: Boris Johnson under pressure over lack of protective gear for NHS staff'The goal should be to where Germany is, which is half a million tests a week' Global public health expert devisridhar agrees with the UK chief scientific officer's argument that 'no test is better than a bad test' when it comes to coronavirus.