Coronavirus: Doctor's union boss admits "social distancing cannot happen in hospitals"

28 March 2020, 13:10

By Seán Hickey

A general lack of protective equipment such as masks and visors for NHS frontline staff is helping spread coronavirus, a medical union chief has claimed.

Dr. Claudia Paolini is the president of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association and she phoned Matt Frei to share the worries of many doctors and nurses that are putting themselves at risk daily by breaking social distancing rules in British hospitals.

"Within hospitals there isn't any social distancing going on" Dr. Paolini revealed. She was speaking on behalf of medical workers in her union that have been contacting in their droves to share their worry about going into hospitals and putting themselves at risk simply because there is not enough protective equipment in circulation to put a safety barrier between the patient and hospital staff.

Dr. Paolini told Matt that in many cases, protective equipment is only being provided in the cases where suspected coronavirus sufferers are showing symptoms. Asymptomatic patients are being treated without protection and so social distancing is absent in such cases, the union boss noted.

"Staff are being exposed to potentially corona positive patients with no protection."

Coronavirus: Doctor&squot;s union boss admits "social distancing cannot happen in hospitals"
Coronavirus: Doctor's union boss admits "social distancing cannot happen in hospitals". Picture: PA

"This is a huge worry for us" Dr. Paolini said. Exposing medical staff to potential carriers is putting the NHS's capacity to cope with the coronavirus outbreak at risk and putting thousands of staff members on the line to potentially have to self-isolate in weeks to come.

Matt pointed out that the logic behind not protecting medical staff is laughable, stating that "you can't stand two metres away from a patient" that needs to be treated for coronavirus.

The union boss said that "there's a lot of fear and anxiety" within the medical profession at the moment. Her union stands over doctors, consultants and specialists within hospitals in the UK and she pointed out that many in the profession are telling her of the fear they have by going to work daily.

She called for all medical staff to be given the appropriate equipment with no exceptions and that "stocks and supplies need to arrive to hospitals quicker than they are" to allow this to be standard across the board.

Dr. Paolini called for future policy to be simply that "any clinical contact is made with personal protective equipment" and if such gear isn't at hand, then staff cannot work.