Urgent search for more safety gear for brave workers

THE WESTERN Trust has been “relentlessly trying” to source more supplies of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for its local staff, as it gears up for an expected surge in Covid-19 patients this week. 
Since the outbreak began concerns have been growing that staff at SWAH and other health care workers in the area did not have enough protective gear to keep them and their families safe from the virus. However, the Herald has learned that in recent days the situation has began to improve, and further staff protective measures are being implemented at the hospital. 
On Monday this week, the Department of Health took delivery of over 1.3 million protective aprons and over 300,000 respirator masks, but it is still waiting for many more items to arrive. Minister Robin Swann, pictured right, said they will “continue to work hard to secure more supplies.” 
Likewise, the Western Trust has said while its staff who have been deemed, under official guidelines, to need the most protection currently has sufficient access to PPE, but with an influx of patients expected in the coming days and weeks, much more was needed. 
“Whilst we have reasonable numbers of stock either on hand or our share of regional pandemic stock, it will very quickly run down during surge,” said a Trust spokeswoman, who explained the Trust was responsible for local distribution of PPE sourced centrally in Belfast. 
“The policy is that PPE should be distributed only on the basis of identified need,” they continued, explaining the Trust also distributed PPE to other health and social care services and independent sector organisations who can’t source their own. 
“There is guidance nationally on the differing levels of equipment that staff should avail of depending on their role and the nature of their interaction with patients/ clients.”
The spokeswoman said the Trust had received many donations of PPE, and had a process in place to accept and assess the equipment. They said the Trust had also added to it’s own stock, and was continuing to try to add more.  
“We have been relentlessly trying to source further supplies locally, and we have some orders in place and others will follow when we identify solid suppliers,” they said.

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