GMB members at Great Western Hospital echo PPE fears

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Swindon's Great Western Hospital joins the growing list of Trusts with frightened hospital staff speaking out about lack of PPE

GMB Southern Region, the trade union for NHS staff, are being contacted by an ever growing number of very concerned members and front line NHS staff, who are worried about the current lack of personal protective equipment while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Recent contact from clinical staff at GWH has painted a frightening picture.  They are having daily contact with patients who are either showing symptoms of the Coronavirus or with those who have actually been diagnosed with the disease, without being issued adequate and appropriate PPE. 

Incidents are being reported of nursing staff in tears as they look after COVID-19 positive patients, having only been issued with basic surgical masks, aprons and a pair of goggles. 

There are also numerous incidences of staff having patients coughing on them, leaving potentially contagious saliva droplets on their hair, face, neck and arms.  This is leaving nursing staff visibly scared and concerned not only for their own health but, that of their family as well. 

GMB members as healthcare professionals know and accept that they have a responsibility to help patients, save lives and reduce suffering and they do so willingly; but they do have the right at the very least to have fit and proper protection whilst at work.

Frontline services during the current crisis and especially under current working conditions are not getting the protection and support they need.  This means they are vulnerable to the virus, and GMB are clear that it is only a matter of time before healthcare workers are infected en masse, which will of course be catastrophic to the NHS system, patient safety and therefore the fight against the current pandemic.

Asia Allison GMB Regional Organiser said, "GMB have been told by our members that they are working in fear, due to the inadequate personal protective equipment that is being provided to them.  They are acutely aware that the chance of them becoming unwell themselves becomes more and more likely on every shift. 

"The UK’s national standard of PPE fails to meet the WHO’s recommendation of the minimum level of protection, and while other countries arm their frontline healthcare workers with hazmat suits, we are just given an apron and a surgical mask to fight this battle. 

"Covid-19 has been confirmed as highly contagious, and asymptomatic carriers could infect others via aerosols and droplets.  GMB are anxious that hospitals are more concerned with creating what looks like a harmonious atmosphere than prioritising measures to protect patients and staff.

"In other hospitals (such as the Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge), all healthcare workers have been required to wear a mask at work.  Shouldn’t this be made compulsory across all hospitals? 

"GMB will work tirelessly to ensure that PPE issues are sorted and we give those charged with our care the care and protection they deserve to do just that."


Media Enquiries: Asia Allison via 07813541930 or