Senior nurse with Covid-19 tells James O'Brien: UK's high death rate down to PPE shortages

30 April 2020, 12:15 | Updated: 30 April 2020, 12:18

By Adrian Sherling

This senior nurse who is at home with coronavirus has told James O'Brien how the shortages of protective kit for NHS staff has led to the high death rate in the UK.

New figures released by the government yesterday shows that the UK has the third highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, behind only the USA and Italy.

James was asking why this death rate wasn't on the front page of all the newspapers as the big story of the day.

Then Sarah called up from her bed as she fights Covid-19. Apologising for her husky voice, she said: "I'm a senior nurse. I've been nursing people with Covid to death.

"I think that fundamentally, as a senior nurse, it's down to [Public] Health England and the PPE resources. People have to understand that PPE is not about protecting the nurses, doctors and healthcare workers. It's actually a fundamental component of making sure that infection is not spread from patient to patient.

"The guidelines we've had are that we should only wear PPE if a patient is symptomatic. We now know that during the proliferation stage, you can be asymptomatic and spreading it everywhere. That was down to the fact that we didn't have PPE."

James O'Brien heard this powerful call from a nurse on PPE
James O'Brien heard this powerful call from a nurse on PPE. Picture: LBC / PA

She went on to explain how guidelines have changed, but outlined the shortcomings of them, especially in the way the care homes were treated.

Even though they lacked protective equipment, Sarah insisted she and her colleagues carried on

James said the only thing he could say to Sarah was thank you, but she insisted: "Every time I hear the government say thank you, I want to say don't put our names from your mouths to the public.

"They are hiding behind the science. The guidelines from Health England are all guided by the resources we have and we haven't had the same PPE that they've had in Europe or America.

"From day one, we've not had the correct PPE. That's why it's spread so fast."

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A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care said: "This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we have taken the right steps at the right time to combat it, guided at all times by the best scientific advice.

"The government has been working day and night to battle against coronavirus, delivering a strategy designed at all times to protect our NHS and save lives."