BASILDON and Thurrock University Hospital, the worst-hit by the corononavirus in Essex, are one of three hospitals to confirm they could wash and reuse PPE as the UK face a national shortage of gowns.
The South Essex Foundation Trust, which includes Broomfield, Basildon and Southend Hospitals, said that they could find themselves in a “difficult situation” in the following days and weeks as they increasingly face PPE issues, as reports Essex live.
To ensure they keep their staff safe, the joint-chief executive of the hospitals said that they have been looking into ways to decontaminate the gowns and coveralls so that they can use them again.
Essex Live further reports the Trust confirmed that they have not started washing and reusing the gowns yet, but they are trialing the process if the frontline situation requires it.
They stressed that the safety of their staff remained an “absolute priority”.
Chief Executive Clare Panniker said: “The safety of our staff is our absolute priority. Throughout the current Covid-19 pandemic we have been working tirelessly to ensure we have supplies of PPE for staff who need it.
“However, it is now looking like there is a national shortage of gowns, and we could find ourselves in a difficult situation in the coming days and weeks. We want to be on the front foot, and to keep our staff safe, so are looking at ways of ensuring we have equipment available.
“We have worked closely with our microbiology and infection control leads – as well as our union colleagues – and have started to look at decontaminating our gowns and coveralls so we can use them again.
“Initial trials have taken place and are looking extremely positive – they remain fully fluid-resistant.
“While we have not yet started to reuse gowns or coveralls, trialling this procedure is a sensible and responsible step to take so we can be fully prepared.”
Three days ago, on Friday April 17th, Chris Hopson, head of NHS Providers which represents healthcare trusts across England, tweeted about the PPE shortages.
In a Twitter thread he said: “We have now reached the point where the national stock of fully fluid repellent gowns and long-sleeved laboratory coats will be exhausted in the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours.”
Further down, he added: “An obvious question for any Coronavirus public inquiry is why there were insufficient stocks of gowns (and visors) in national reserve.
“We understand this is connected to what type of pandemic (e.g. winter flu vs Coronavirus type pandemic) reserve was configured for.”