Posted: Fri 3rd Apr 2020

Father of North Wales doctor launches protective equipment crowdfunding drive

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Apr 3rd, 2020

The father of a doctor on the front line of the fight against coronavirus has started a crowdfunding drive to get adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for her and her colleagues.

Mark Sharpe, from Anglesey, said his daughter had been working on Ysbyty Gwynedd’s emergency department but had been redeployed to the respiratory ward.

He said she couldn’t work on the Covid-19 ward because the FFP3 masks supplied by the NHS don’t fit her due to her slight stature.

The same claim was made by the father of a serving female paramedic, who also contacted the Local Democracy Reporting Service to complain of a lack of PPE and poor fitting FFP3 masks.

The FFP3 Mask is an oral nasal disposable mask recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and should be “face fit tested before use” to guarantee adequate protection for the wearer.

A spokesman for Bets Cadwaladr University Health Board said: “Trained staff at all three of our acute sites are providing fit testing to ensure our PPE protects our staff correctly.

There are processes in place for staff who have any concerns about the fit of PPE to seek expert guidance.”

Mr Sharpe has now been to Anglesey firm Virustaticshield to purchase snoods that claim to trap 96% of airborne pathogens such as coronavirus.

He is also working on getting suitable eyewear for doctors, nurses and health care staff on the front line of fighting the pandemic in North Wales.

He said: “The PPE is too big for her. Someone has ordered PPE but not everything the staff need. It really is needed.

It’s both the sizing and the volume. It’s so precarious. I am not saying it’s the Welsh Government’s fault.

If everyone pulls together, there’s a way to manage the mess we are in. If it’s like this now, what’s it going to be like in eight weeks?

There’s a lot of staff there who feel the PPE is inadequate. There’s not enough PPE and the PPE that’s there doesn’t fit everybody.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have issued more than 3.4m extra pieces of PPE from pandemic stocks and are working hard to distribute more to where it is needed most. All the equipment is subject to rigorous testing.”

Welsh Government confirmed that, of those 3.4m items, 600,000 are single-use FFP3 masks.

It said there were another 1.5m “protective face masks” but what type they are has not been confirmed.

The spokesman for Betsi Cadwaladr UHB said there was “suitable and sufficient PPE” for its staff and said the board had received “a significant delivery of PPE which will bolster our stock for the foreseeable future”.

The board has also been asked whether they were aware of sizing and fit issues of masks and if this has stopped some people working on Covid-19 wards.

It was also asked if it allowed staff to use their own PPE and if it welcomed the fundraiser to buy PPE for staff.

The father of a paramedic said his daughter was “unable to get any of the new masks to fit correctly as ‘face fit tested’” and claimed “supplies of the current mask (the FFP3) are almost depleted”.

A Welsh Ambulance spokeswoman said the supply of PPE was managed by NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (NWSSP).

Claire Roche, of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “The supply chain issue has been felt by every healthcare provider across the UK, not just the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething announced that PPE from the pandemic stockpile has been released to the NHS, which is welcome news.

For the Welsh Ambulance Service, this means we’re expecting the imminent arrival of alcohol hand gel, face masks and eye protection in significant quantities, which will build on our existing stock.

All frontline staff are being FIT-tested for face masks, and all face masks have passed rigorous safety testing and have been confirmed as safe for use by the Health and Safety Executive.

In terms of the level of PPE required when dealing with a suspected Covid-19 patient, WAST has adopted national guidance for all UK ambulance services.”

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to raise money to buy the virustatic masks and visors for NHS staff here.

By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter

[Feature image is a stock photo]

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