An NHS worker has spoken of their fear and anger over a lack of personal protection equipment (PPE) available to frontline hospital staff amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The healthcare worker, who is based at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr, said they were “petrified” at the prospect of working around coronavirus patients without the necessary PPE.
The worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “All we need to wear are rubber gloves, a plastic pinny and a surgical mask – which as we know, gives no protection. We need proper sealed masks.
“There’s not enough of the single-use sealed masks to go around.
“We’ve had two agency nurses from the Cwm Taf Health Board, who were surprised by the lack of PPE here.”
They added: “Everyone is calling us (NHS staff) heroes, but I don’t feel like a hero – I’m petrified.
“I’m worried about catching it, so I want to be tested. I have to go home after work to look after my ten-year-old son.”
The worker said they felt they had to chose between their job and their health, as well as their family’s health.
Tanya Palmer, regional secretary of Unison Cymru said health and care staff are “frightened and anxious” that necessary PPE is not yet in place”, and said it places “them and their families at risk, adding to what is already a stressful working environment.”
Ms Palmer added: “A lack of protective equipment risks the spread of the virus amongst the staff who are trying to protect us all.
“Welsh Government guidance is clear and employers must do more to ensure staff at the forefront of the fight against the virus are as safe as possible.
“It’s imperative we give our public service workers every protection they need as they go about their vital work.”
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Dr Frank Atherton, chief medical officer for Wales, said more than 3.4 million PPE items have been issued to frontline health and social care workers.
He said: “The current UK guidance is clear PPE should be used when dealing with people who have or are suspected to have Covid-19.
“The current guidelines about what PPE is needed differs by setting and procedure. It is essential those who need PPE have access to it but we should not use it unnecessarily in order to avoid wastage and to ensure we have sufficient stocks.”
“It is vital they [health and social care staff] are protected and that they feel confident when working.”
Dr Atherton also announced a “rapid review” into supply issues and efficient use of current PPE stocks.
Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething recently told BBC Wales there had been issues providing PPE to NHS staff in Wales.
Speaking on Sunday’s BBC Politics he said: “We’ve put out a significant amount of PPE to frontline staff but I know there are localised challenges and problems and it’s no surprise that people want to talk about those.”
Latest information on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Most cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) seem to be mild.
Coronavirus is a viral disease that can cause coughing, fever and difficulty breathing. It can be more severe in older people, those with weakened immune systems and some long-term conditions like diabetes or cancer.
Source: Public Health Wales
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