Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Coronavirus: East of England Ambulance staff ‘not protected’

Screenshot 2020-03-18 at 07.45.49

AMBULANCE crews are being sent to treat patients without being warned they may have coronavirus, a union has claimed reports the BBC.

Crews at East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) were worried about a “lack of preparation and training”, said Unison.

The union also said staff were worried about contamination after being told to wash their uniforms at home following contact with possible Covid-19 cases.

The trust’s chief executive said it was following national guidance.

In a letter to trust bosses, the union highlighted what it claimed was a “far from acceptable” situation, including:

A lack of “adequate and suitable training” for contagious disease

No active training in the correct putting on and taking off personal protective equipment (PPE) including full body suits, masks and gloves

The 111 system “letting our members down” due to crews being sent to patients with coronavirus symptoms without being told

Paramedics concerned about infecting family members after treating possible Covid-19 patients

Staff members worried about continuing to treat other patients after treating other possible coronavirus patients

Unison said it had been told of one incident where a crew raised concerns after treating a patient they suspected to have the disease but were told they should only self-isolate if tests confirmed the patient had the condition.

Jeff Pittman, a paramedic with the trust and a Unison health and safety officer, said: “This raises a whole bucket load of issues because the crew who are potentially infected are expected to attend to other patients before then going home and potentially infecting their own family members.”

Advice from the trust is for ambulance staff who believe their uniforms have been contaminated to wash their uniforms at home in a dissolvable bag, but the union claim these bags are not suitable for domestic washing machines.

Marcus Bailey, chief operating officer at the trust, said all staff were fully trained in how to use personal protective equipment and they had been in “close direct links” with representatives at Unison.
“Call centres and 111 are following the agreed procedure for the assessment of patients,” he said.
“We are well prepared for incidents like this and the NHS and Public Health England are taking all necessary steps to manage the situation.”


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