NHS doctors warn their hospitals are running out of three vital drugs that help the sickest coronavirus patients
- Doctors said the supplies of propofol, fentanyl and noradrenaline are getting low
- They use powerful anaesthesia drugs, such as propofol, to intubate their patient
- Noradrenalin, an adrenaline, and painkiller fentanyl were banned from export
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
NHS doctors have warned their hospitals are running out of three vital drugs that help coronavirus patients fighting for their lives on ventilators.
Medical staff said their supplies of the sedative propofol as well as the painkiller fentanyl and circulation-boosting noradrenaline are getting low.
The shocking revelations come as the death toll in Britain rocketed by 917 to 9,875, with infections rising by 5,233 to 78,991.
Medical staff said their supplies of the sedative propofol (pictured) as well as the painkiller fentanyl and circulation-boosting drug noradrenaline are getting low
Paramedics take a patient into St Thomas’ Hospital, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson is recovering from coronavirus
To manage the most severe coronavirus cases, resuscitators have to immerse the patients in an artificial coma and intubate them.
They use powerful anaesthesia drugs – such as propofol, which now costs up to £20 for 100ml – to do this and these are the ones that are rapidly disappearing.
Noradrenalin, a type of adrenaline, and the the high-grade painkiller fentanyl were banned from export last month to try to stem the shortages.
But consultant anaesthetist Anthony Beaumont told the Sunday Mirror ‘we’re running out of drugs,’ adding he has enough propofol to last five days.
He said: ‘Nobody saw this pandemic coming and to expect the Health Service to be ready is unfair. The infrastructure is just not up to it.’
The 62-year-old, who came out of retirement to join the ICU at Kent and Canterbury Hospital, added: ‘There is a shortage. This could mean operating theatres will get first pick, leaving patients in intensive care.’
He claimed there are plans to sedate Covid patients with morphine and midazolam, which he said are not as effective as patients take longer to wake up.
One doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, also said the drugs are being rationed by the Department of Health of Social Care.
Their warnings were echoed by chairman of the clinical quality and research board for the Royal College of Anaesthetists Professor William Harrop-Griffiths.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘We are doing everything to ensure patients access medicines they need.
‘We are working with the pharmaceutical industry and NHS England to make supplies available.
‘We have banned the parallel export of more than 100 medicines to keep supplies in the UK.’
It comes as senior NHS officials revealed hospitals could run out of gowns for doctors after Home Secretary Priti Patel said she is ‘sorry if people feel there have been failings’ over the supply of protective gear.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said she was sorry if anyone felt there had been failings over the supply of PPE for health workers in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic
Memos were leaked on Saturday warned of a ‘national shortage’ of the long-sleeved gowns that are needed to treat coronavirus patients.
The revelation comes as the Government asked any companies which can manufacture gowns to sign up to their new plan to produce personal protective equipment.
Kington Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said in correspondence seen by The Telegraph that supplies of gowns could run out as soon as this weekend.
The news came hours after Public Health England relaxed its rules and said doctors could get away with wearing one-piece suits with a hood if gowns were not available.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said she is sorry if anyone feels there has been failings over the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
In an email sent on Thursday evening, Martin Barkley, the Mid Yorkshire chief executive, said: ‘I fully recognise the huge anxiety staff feel about this issue.
‘Every day you are coming into work, leaving your families, putting yourselves in what must feel like a vulnerable and scary position in order to do the right thing by our patients. I want to assure you the trust is doing everything it can to secure further stocks.’
The Government has issued a plea to all industries asking that any firms which can produce protective equipment to come forward.