'Risking their lives': NHS staff don't have enough coronavirus protective equipment, GP says

James MorrisSenior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Yahoo News UK
Dr Farhaan Shabir has set up a fundraiser for personal protective equipment for NHS staff. (Farhaan Shabir/GoFundMe)
Dr Farhaan Shabir has set up a fundraiser for personal protective equipment for NHS staff. (Farhaan Shabir/GoFundMe)

A GP has taken it upon himself to fundraise for protective clothing amid fears some NHS workers aren’t being provided with enough equipment to guard themselves against coronavirus.

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Dr Farhaan Shabir, who works at a practice in Walsall, said there is a “shortage of supplies” and is worried there will be a spike in coronavirus cases among NHS workers in the next two weeks.

He has launched a £50,000 fundraiser to buy necessities such as masks, aprons, gloves and medical equipment for frontline staff who are “risking their lives”.

It comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths continues to dramatically increase.

NHS bosses insisted on Tuesday there is enough personal protective equipment (PPE) but that there has been distribution problems. NHS England leader Sir Simon Stevens also promised production would be “ramped up”.

Dr Shabir, however, told Yahoo News UK on Thursday: “I have got friends working in hospitals who are very concerned about protective equipment, namely the face masks.

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“Things are changing on a daily basis but there’s a shortage of supplies coming in. I want to do my bit to get it straight over to the doctors and nurses.

“Some healthcare workers will obviously have underlying health problems themselves and they need to be protected.

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“I am worried we will get a spike in cases among healthcare workers in the next two weeks.”

He said part of the issue is bigger NHS trusts benefiting from better funding and organisation than smaller trusts, such as the one he works for in the Midlands.

Read more: Can the NHS deal with a coronavirus pandemic?

“Trusts are like independent businesses,” he said, “all working at different paces. Central government is probably not co-ordinating in one go. The problem is we [the trusts] are not on the same hymn sheet.”

Asked what it has been like working in the NHS as the coronavirus crisis has taken hold, Dr Shabir said: “In the last two weeks, we have switched all consultations to the phone. Patients are worried about accessing routine medical care.

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“Morale is fine. We are sticking together and trying to help one another. NHS workers are coming into work with the attitude of: ‘We will get through this.’”

Asked if he thinks the NHS can cope as the number of cases continues to rise, he said: “We have been under massive pressure anyway.

“We will only know in the next two weeks. If you go by what has happened in Italy, we have to prepare for the worst but hope for the best.”

To view Dr Shabir’s fundraising page, click HERE.

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