Three nurses who were pictured wearing bin bags because of a lack of protective gear have tested positive for coronavirus, it was reported last night.
The frontline staff at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow were forced to put clinical waste bags on their heads and feet last month due to shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).
All three nurses in the picture were diagnosed with the virus at a North London testing centre last week, a senior hospital source told The Daily Telegraph.
Three nurses from Northwick Park hospital in London who posed last month while wearing protective equipment made from bin bags have been diagnosed with Covid 19
The three nurses worked in the north London hospital which has been inundated with patients suffering from Covid-19 symptoms
A spokesman for London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Northwick Park Hospital, said: ‘We can confirm that a number of staff members working in our Covid-19 positive areas have tested positive for the coronavirus. This is unfortunate but not unexpected, as it corresponds with the experience of healthcare workers across the world. We are providing full support to those of our staff members who become unwell, and wish them a swift recovery’
Northwick Park Hospital was the first in the country to declare a critical incident after an influx of coronavirus patients.
More than half of staff on one ward have reportedly contracted the virus and hospital bosses have been blamed for failing to provide them with suitable PPE.
A spokesman for London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Northwick Park Hospital, said: ‘We can confirm that a number of staff members working in our Covid-19 positive areas have tested positive for the coronavirus.
‘This is unfortunate but not unexpected, as it corresponds with the experience of healthcare workers across the world.
‘We are providing full support to those of our staff members who become unwell, and wish them a swift recovery.’
Speaking last month, one of the nurses said they had no choice but to use bin bags because of the shortage of PPE in the hospital.
She said: ‘We could catch the virus ourselves. We need proper PPE kit now, or nurses and doctors are going to die. It’s as simple as that.
‘We’re treating our own colleagues on the ward after they caught the virus from patients. How can that be right?
‘There are so many younger people here on ventilation – many with asthma or diabetes. They can’t stop coughing, they just cough and cough and cough and they can’t help it.’
Yesterday, the Royal College of Nursing warned the lack of PPE in health care settings is ‘fundamentally compromising’ the care being delivered to patients.
Nurses’ safety is also being put at risk, the union warned.
Despite repeated assurances that more personal protective equipment (PPE) is on the way, the RCN said that the kit is not reaching the front line.
Nurses are still being forced to share equipment, buy their own or reuse kit, according to the RCN’s chief executive and general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair.
In a letter to the parliamentary Health Committee chairman, and former health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, Dame Donna said that nurses are being forced to choose between their sense of duty and the safety of themselves and their families.
‘Nursing staff are at the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic,’ Dame Donna wrote in the letter, dated April 6.
‘Our safety and ability to care for patients is being fundamentally compromised by the lack of adequate and correct supplies of vital personal protective equipment (PPE) and the slow and small-scale roll out of Covid-19 testing.
‘Our members are facing impossible decisions between their own or their family’s health and their sense of duty.
‘The distribution and adequacy of PPE has led nursing staff to share equipment, buy their own supplies or to reuse single-use PPE. Although there are announcements that millions of pieces of PPE are being distributed, they aren’t reaching the front line across all health and care settings.’
Global shortages of PPE have led to shortfalls on the NHS front line as medics try to care for the rising tide of patients with Covid-19.
Officials have said that millions of pieces of kit have been distributed and a hotline has been established to help frontline staff get PPE where it is needed most.
But in a submission of evidence to the Health Committee’s Covid inquiry, the RCN added: ‘Actions to mitigate PPE distribution is regarded by our members to have been too slow and not transparent.
‘Public commitments have not translated into increases in consistently deployed and accessible stocks of adequate PPE.
‘Without adequate and proper PPE, nursing staff are putting their own lives, the lives of their families and patients, at risk. This situation is unconscionable.’
A lack of PPE and hand santisier is particularly acute for nurses in GP surgeries and care homes, the RCN added.
The RCN said that insufficient and inadequate PPE means health and care employers are breaching statutory obligations.
The union said it had written to the Health and Safety Executive calling for intervention.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘We are working around the clock to give the NHS and the wider social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak.
‘Every single hospital, community pharmacy and ambulance trust has now had a PPE delivery. Yesterday we delivered over 30 million items of PPE to NHS Trusts in England, and over the last few weeks, over 600 million items of PPE have been delivered, including masks, gowns, aprons and gloves.
‘The full weight of the Government is behind this effort and we continue to work closely with industry, social care providers, the NHS, NHS Supply Chain and the Army so all our NHS and care staff have the protection they deserve.’