NHS nurse writes desperate letter pleading for PPE they need during coronavirus battle


An NHS nurse has made a desperate plea for companies to provide hospital staff with personal protective equipment. 

In the latest warning from a frontline health worker, the unnamed nurse claimed staff were being expected to reuse contaminated gowns. 

Posting on Facebook, she wrote: ‘Please, please, please if anybody knows of any companies that could spare us some PPE then please we are begging them to help. We are all extremely anxious about the lack of equipment we need to keep ourselves, our families, colleagues and patients safe.’ 

NHS workers have pleaded for proper PPE, like that being worn by a nurse at Aintree University Hospital above, since the coronavirus pandemic spread across Britain

The number of new cases continued to rise in the latest data, but the rate has slowed significantly

The number of new cases continued to rise in the latest data, but the rate has slowed significantly

At Doncaster Royal Infirmary, where the nurse works, scores of doctors, nurses and other NHS workers stood in their scrubs and paid tribute to one of their consultants yesterday morning.  

Staff were told Dr Medhat Atalla, 62, a much-loved geriatrician, had died last week. 

But the hospital – in which he and plaster technician Kevin Smith, 64, have died – has been plagued by PPE shortages, according to the nurse. 

Three more healthcare deaths emerged yesterday – bringing the total number of healthcare staff to have died from coronavirus to nearly 130 in the UK. 

In another heart-breaking case, a grieving husband told of the desperate moment his NHS worker wife lay struggling for breath as she died in his arms while waiting for paramedics. 

Laura Tanner, 51, had told friends how annoyed she was to have come down with ‘nasty flulike symptoms’ because she was so busy at work. 

But her husband Kevin, 49, described the harrowing final moments on April 1 as her breathing became shallower and she slipped away at home. 

He said: ‘Laura was the most wonderful, warm, fantastic wife and mother we could have wished for.’ 

Dr Medhat Atalla was a 'hugely popular and respected' NHS doctor working in Doncaster, where he died after being treated for Covid-19

Dr Medhat Atalla was a ‘hugely popular and respected’ NHS doctor working in Doncaster, where he died after being treated for Covid-19

Laura Tanner, with her husband Kevin. Laura had told friends how annoyed she was to have come down with ‘nasty flulike symptoms’ because she was so busy at work

Laura Tanner, with her husband Kevin. Laura had told friends how annoyed she was to have come down with ‘nasty flulike symptoms’ because she was so busy at work

Shocking stories have continued to emerge from frontline NHS workers over the lack of personal protection they are expected to work with. 

Tragically, many have gone on to die of the virus after warning their superiors – and even the Prime Minister – they were at severe risk. 

Relatives of healthcare assistant Thomas Harvey, 57, who died from coronavirus, claimed he only had ‘gloves and a flimsy apron’ for protection. 

The grandfather-of-three fell ill on March 11 having helped a patient who later tested positive for Covid-19, while working at Goodmayes Hospital, in Ilford, east London. 

NHS nurses and healthcare workers are dying as they try to save lives amidst the coronavirus pandemic

NHS nurses and healthcare workers are dying as they try to save lives amidst the coronavirus pandemic 

Mental health care worker Thomas Harvey, 57, died after treating a suspected Covid-19 patient without any protective equipment

Mental health care worker Thomas Harvey, 57, died after treating a suspected Covid-19 patient without any protective equipment

His family said he felt ‘let down’ due to the lack of equipment and claim with the ‘right’ personal protective equipment he may not have died. 

Speaking after his death on March 29, his daughter Tamira, 19, told the BBC: ‘If he had just had the right equipment we wouldn’t be in this predicament.’ 

In South Wales, a friend of a nurse who died after contracting coronavirus claimed he ‘paid the ultimate price’ due to a lack of PPE. 

Gareth Roberts, 65, who had worked as a nurse across the Cardiff and Vale health board since the 1980s died in hospital in Merthyr Tydfil on April 11. 

His childhood friend Janette Leonard said he had little to no protection from the virus as he worked extra shifts to help cover the wards at Llandough Hospital near Penarth.

‘He didn’t have PPE – in the beginning, he said he didn’t have anything,’ she said. 

‘He had a paper mask, plastic gloves and a pinny. That’s alright if you are making sandwiches but not when you are going to nurse people with the disease.’ 

The number of people in hospital with coronavirus in London has fallen but the figures across much of the rest of the country have not dropped sharply yet

The number of people in hospital with coronavirus in London has fallen but the figures across much of the rest of the country have not dropped sharply yet 

Consultant urologist Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, 53, died on April 8, at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, east London. Three weeks earlier he had written a Facebook post warning Boris Johnson about the lack of PPE for healthcare staff

Consultant urologist Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, 53, died on April 8, at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, east London. Three weeks earlier he had written a Facebook post warning Boris Johnson about the lack of PPE for healthcare staff

She added: ‘We’re angry. Why would you send a soldier to the front line without combat gear? It’s unthinkable.’ 

Meanwhile, a doctor died less than three weeks after writing a Facebook post warning Boris Johnson about the lack of personal protective equipment. 

Consultant urologist Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, 53, died on April 8, at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, east London. 

His eldest son Intisar said he was ‘proud’ his father had the ‘courage… to point out something wrong that the Government was doing’. 

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Doncaster Royal Infirmary, said PPE stocks were in good supply. 

And Cardiff and Vale University health board said it had enough PPE in stock but would take a ‘more detailed look into the availability’ in its hospitals.

Comment by Professor Andrew Goddard President of the Royal College of Physicians  

Every doctor knows from the day they enter medical school that there may come a time when they will be put at risk of catching a deadly disease. 

Of course, for some doctors the risks are higher, depending on the medical specialty they choose. 

But even for doctors dealing with the most deadly infections, the very least they expect is to have the equipment they need to protect themselves and their patients. 

Grandfather Gareth Roberts, 65, came out of retirement to work extra shifts during the pandemic, following his death Mr Roberts' family have hit out at the government over a lack of PPE

Grandfather Gareth Roberts, 65, came out of retirement to work extra shifts during the pandemic, following his death Mr Roberts’ family have hit out at the government over a lack of PPE

And yet according to a survey carried out by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) our doctors’ access to PPE appears to be getting worse. 

At the start of April some 22 per cent of RCP doctors said that they could not access the PPE they needed. 

On Wednesday that figure rose to 27 per cent. It’s hardly surprising that this now means that one in four doctors is having to re-use vital protective clothing. 

The figures make for very uncomfortable reading. Just 69 per cent of its doctors are always able to access vital long-sleeve gowns, while only 50 per cent can rely on there being enough goggles. 

This is a truly terrible state of affairs. It’s immaterial to tell healthcare workers how many billion pieces of PPE have been ordered or supplied if it isn’t there when they need it and they are faced with the impossible and traumatic situation of putting themselves and their patients at risk. 

It is clear that there is a chasm between what is needed and what is available. 

And this is a very dangerous situation. For if we don’t have the right PPE it be impossible to keep staff safe and keep the infection under control in hospitals. 

Yes, it’s encouraging that the government has stepped up its efforts and appointed a new PPE ‘tsar’, Lord Deighton. 

I hope that he will be frank and transparent. If he can deliver more of the right PPE in the coming weeks he might begin to retrieve the confidence of healthcare professionals. 

Crucially, this problem isn’t going to go away. Indeed, PPE will be needed into the foreseeable future. 

The harsh truth is that we must not see the Covid-19 outbreak as a single ‘incident’ that will be over in a few months. 

Instead, we must expect the virus to be an ever-present, lurking threat in our hospitals, surgeries and care homes. 

As patients come out of lockdown, the NHS is going to be busier than ever before. PPE, along with testing, will be critical to ensuring they and the staff caring for them are kept as safe as possible. 

Without it, the virus will continue to threaten the lives of many.

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