Hospitals remain desperately short of the type of personal protective equipment approved by World Health Organisation – and shortage is fuelling infection among most vulnerable
Care homes in the north-east of England have received a message from their local council telling them that elderly coronavirus patients will be sent back to them – with just a day’s supply of masks. However, the situation in most other parts of England is even worse.
Spain and other countries worst-hit by the virus have seen huge death tolls in nursing homes, with the virus spreading like wildfire among those most vulnerable to its lethal complications.
But Middlesbrough Borough Council (MBC) has written to the homes saying that hospitalised patients will be discharged and sent back with twenty masks, which local nursing staff say is enough for one staff member for a single day.
Terrifyingly, the phenomenon is at least an England-wide one and that MBC and the local James Cook University Hospital are doing more to protect residents and staff than many other councils and hospitals – and that the councils and hospitals are merely doing what they have been told to by the government.
A spokesman for Middlesbrough Council said:
While individual care homes await delivery of more facemasks, the local hospital has made the gesture of providing each discharged COVID-19 patient from a care home with 20 facemasks.
This is an act that will help while care homes await delivery of more facemasks, which it is acknowledged are needed as soon as possible in care settings across the country.
However, a council insider described the situation as a nationwide one – and one with ‘absolutely terrifying’ consequences:
The local hospital is making a gesture, but a lot of hospitals are are discharging with nothing at all – and it’s no surprise, when the government still isn’t even delivering enough PPE for their own needs.
What James Cook (University Hospital) is doing may be next to nothing, but even that’s a stretch for them given the supply situation. In most places people are being sent back without any kind of PPE at all – and those councils and trusts are only doing what they’ve been told to.
And everyone knows what the result of putting people with the virus back into an environment full of the most vulnerable people is going to be.
It’s absolutely terrifying, but the government just seems to make claim after claim about what they’re providing. The claims are almost instantly disproven, but they just move on to the next one – and they’re so slow in actually taking any meaningful action that it beggars belief.
One local health worker told the SKWAWKBOX:
Forcing hospitals to send infected people back into care homes with no means of containing the virus is going to infect residents and the people caring for them. It’s the equivalent of pulling the pin on a grenade and throwing it into a room full of elderly people.
That’s basically what the government is doing. Their failure to start preparations when they had the opportunity is killing people and their failure to prepare now is going to kill even more. It’s unforgivable.
Local MP Andy McDonald said:
Elderly care is a hugely important link in the chain. If anyone is being sent back from hospital to a care home, it’s absolutely imperative for all the necessary PPE to be in place, because we know from existing cases how quickly it spreads.
There was a care home on the south coast where the virus spread at a rate of knots, so I’ll continue to raise this with the council’s strategic coordinating group and with the hospital directly.
But this is a countrywide issue and the government needs to get its act together, not just to claim PPE is being delivered to the NHS but really ensure it’s done. If there are any gaps where the virus can spread, that will quite literally be a disaster.
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