Stevenage nurse exposes damning PPE failings on Lister coronavirus wards

A nurse at Lister Hospital was 'terrified' after being asked to enter wards without basic protection

A nurse at Lister Hospital was 'terrified' after being asked to enter wards without basic protection. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

A nurse at Lister Hospital has broken ranks to expose the shocking PPE health workers are being equipped with on the frontline against coronavirus.

The Stevenage nurse, who has asked not to be named, said she was sent into a COVID-19 positive ward on Saturday night with inadequate personal protective equipment – and took a photo to show her partner at home, who is immunocompromised.

The nurse, who was redeployed from her regular ward, said it was “pretty scary” tending to patients who had tested positive for coronavirus, without basic PPE.

She told The Comet that other nurses she had spoken to have “experienced the same thing,” and are being “thrown into situations they are not comfortable with”.

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“When I first walked on to the ward and saw some of the nurses gowning up, to be honest, I was terrified. We were being asked to do something which puts our families at risk.

“Of course, it is our job, and I’m happy to do it. I’m a nurse, this is what we do. We want to care – but you need to send us in with the proper gear. Patients are going to suffer.”

“We are being told to go to all different wards, and we try to do our best and put on a brave face, but the truth is, we need a lot more support.”

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The nurse said she is also “putting her partner at risk” who is immunocompromised and takes regular medication. He has been receiving text messages from the government advising him to self-isolate for 12 weeks.

Her partner said he was “very angry” when he saw the photograph of her entering the ward on Saturday night.

“How is it acceptable for everyone to clap for our NHS and be happy, but then leave them defenceless before going home to their families?” he said.

The nurse in question has been in contact with Stevenage Borough Leader Sharon Taylor, who has raised the issue of PPE directly with Nick Carver, CEO of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust.

A spokesperson for the Trust said: “The health and safety of our patients and staff remains our top priority. We are constantly reviewing our personal protective equipment and we work closely with Public Health England to ensure we are following the latest national guidelines.

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“We are also providing ongoing support for frontline staff on PPE to ensure they are aware of these guidelines and know how to use the PPE correctly.”

As of Wednesday at 2pm, at least three NHS staff had died after testing positive for COVID-19 – including 57-year-old Thomas Harvey, from Ilford, who was not provided with PPE when treating infected patients.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has written a letter to Boris Johnson saying that the country “cannot tolerate” a situation where “so many frontline NHS staff are still awaiting personal protective equipment.”