Doctors feel like “lambs to the slaughter” after being sent to battle the coronavirus outbreak without necessary protection equipment, a top doctor has warned.
Dr Rinesh Parmar, a consultant anaesthetist who is working on a Covid-19 intensive care ward, said front-line NHS staff were being treated as “cannon fodder” as they scrambled to protect themselves from patients infected with Covid-19.
Describing the current crisis as the “calm before the storm” he begged Boris Johnson for the equipment they need to keep safe.
NHS staff are reporting concerns about a lack of an adequate supply of masks, gloves, aprons and protective suits.
Dr Parmar, who chairs the Doctors’ Association, told BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show: “We have had doctors tell us they feel like lambs to the slaughter, that they feel like cannon fodder. GPs tell us that they feel absolutely abandoned.
“We must really stress to the prime minister that we need to protect the front line here.
“They are all pleading with Boris Johnson that they really urgently look into arranging the vital personal protection equipment that all of us need on the NHS front line.”
“What our doctors are telling us is that although equipment is arriving, some of it is inadequate, some of it doesn’t meet the World Health Organisation guidance.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the government was working “round the clock” to ensure NHS staff had the right equipment to do their jobs.
Jason Leitch, the national clinical director of healthcare quality and strategy, insisted there was sufficient supply of items, amid concerns that not all medical and care workers who need such items have been provided with them.
He said the situation would get better “in the next few days”.
However he said the distribution of such items had been “challenging”, as the health service tries to get protective equipment out to more people than normal.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said that the coronavirus pandemic had come “on us really fast”.
Mr Leitch said: “I know there is enough supply, the distribution has been challenging, because we’re adding in new places, we’re adding in care homes, we’re adding in community pharmacies.
“We’ve not had to do regular PPE transmission to those places before, so that is causing some individual challenges around the four UK countries.”