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A doctor has urged people to stop stealing from hospitals amid an equipment crisis that she says leaves NHS workers like her “looking down the barrel of a gun”.
Dr Katie Rogerson, a paediatric doctor and NHS campaigner, said while the PPE situation was gradually getting better, it is coming in “peaks and troughs” and NHS workers are still facing shortages.
Speaking on Yahoo UK’s Up Close and Socially Distant series, Dr Rogerson said: “We've all heard about the PPE, or the lack of protective equipment for the NHS staff, and that has been incredibly, I mean, disappointing isn't the right word, is it?
“It's been devastating. It's like looking down the barrel of a gun and being asked to just casually get on with it. It is very much felt like people are having to put their life lives on the line and really unnecessarily so.
“We are all really proud to do our jobs and want to do the best by our patients but we feel like we’ve been put in a very challenging position here.”
Alongside not being prepared for the crisis, Dr Rogerson said stealing from hospitals has also exacerbated the situation and pleaded for people to think twice.
“I understand that they're scared,” she said, “but we have to get these public health messages out there, and we have to encourage people to just be a little bit calmer and more properly assess the situation before they do things like take a box of gloves from a hospital.
“Because actually, you don't need those gloves. And someone on the front line... they really, really do.”
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Dr Rogerson is co-founder of NHS Million — a campaign to create a ‘superteam’ of a million people who will love and cherish the health service — as well as a co-director of NHSVoices, which brings together singers and healthcare heroes to mark the 70th birthday of the NHS.
Her comments come amid an ongoing row over the availability of PPE for NHS workers and care workers.
The government has been racing to get extra protective equipment to help in the fight against COVID-19 whilst facing criticism for what some have said is a lack of preparedness.
Some British manufacturers have said their offers to help supply PPE have fallen on deaf ears and claim they have been “ignored” by officials while care homes have said they are “fighting” to get PPE for staff.
Joyce Pinfield, who is on the board of directors of the National Care Association, said care homes have been “left in the lurch” and are having to source equipment from various organisations “hoping that they are bona fide providers of PPE”.
“We’re all fighting to obtain our own PPE,” she said. “It’s been really left open to anybody who can import it or produce it emailing care providers and then they seem to be able to charge what they like.”
This week, Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Boris Johnson as he recovers from coronavirus, faced a grilling on PPE in Prime Minister’s Questions.
Raab told Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer: “Since the start of the outbreak, we’ve delivered one billion items of personal protective equipment and tens of millions have been distributed via the devolved administrations.”