Coronavirus: Hospitals plead 'please stop stealing our hand sanitiser'

24 March 2020, 08:29

Healthcare workers have made the plea to the public
Healthcare workers have made the plea to the public. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Hospitals across the country are pleading with patients not to steal bottles of hand sanitiser from wards due to the risk of leaving vulnerable patients exposed to disease.

It comes as scores of shoppers have been panic-buying essentials, including toilet paper, as fears intensify over the spread of coronavirus.

Most supermarkets have run out of hand sanitiser with strict rationing of the product in place in those stores which do have stocks available.

Healthcare workers have now been reporting thefts of the essential medical product from hospitals, with one nurse saying she had gone as far as to cable tie bottles to beds to prevent theft.

Read more: How long does Covid-19 live on surfaces? Is post from China safe?

Read more: Coronavirus symptoms - What are they and what is the risk of Covid-19 in the UK?

Staff on a cancer ward at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London wrote on Twitter: “I can’t believe I am having to ask this but please do not take the hand sanitisers off our wards when you visit Barts Hospital.

“We need it to ensure safe care for your loved ones, the best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is good hand-washing.”

Lizzie Salter, a sister on a surgical ward at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, wrote: “I had to cable tie hand sanitiser to beds today [Saturday] ... please please don’t steal our alcohol gel.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Beard sanitiser sales spike after NHS urged staff to shave

Read more: Coronavirus UK: Do surgical face masks work to avoid virus symptoms?

Jim Stewart, clinical lead for the Leicester Intestinal Failure Team, wrote on Twitter: “To the public. I know you’re frightened but please do not steal the alcohol hand gel from hospitals. You’re putting staff and patients at risk. The NHS needs all the support it can get right now.”

He added: “If you steal from the NHS you’re complicit in someone’s death. At this time possibly several deaths. Grow up and behave.”

Read more: Coronavirus: What is a pandemic and how is one declared?

Read more: ‘Don’t die, please buy’ Glasgow newsagent sells out entire stock of coronavirus face masks

A spokesperson for the Chesterfield Royal Hospital said: “We’re really disappointed to have to make this announcement, but like other hospitals across the country, we’re now seeing supplies of hand sanitisers and gels disappearing from our wards, departments and services.

“A quick walk around this morning reveals that bottles have been taken from our A&E, out-patient clinics, welcome desks, receptions, tables, corridor dispensers and even from patients’ bedsides.

“These products are designed to keep our staff, patients and visitors safe in hospital.

“Along with the best hand hygiene option – washing them with soap and water – they are a vital additional measure to prevent infection spread across our environments.

“With supplies now low in the hospital – and nationally – the actions of a few people could be putting vulnerable people at risk.

“We’re working hard to make sure we can care for people properly – please respect our staff and patients by making sure we have the ability to keep them safe”.

Read more: Family self-isolated due to 'people’s fears' over coronavirus

While levels of stocks in most supermarkets are currently low most are expecting their supplies to be replenished in the coming days and the product is available online.