The World Health Organisation is clear that decisions to reuse or extend the use of PPE should only be a temporary last resort because it involves an extremely high risk of cross-contamination for both staff and patients.
It is the type of advice which a few months ago we might have assumed would apply only to developing countries.
It is an indictment of the UK’s response that it is now having to draw upon emergency WHO guidelines which will inevitably place healthcare workers and patients at greater risk from Covid-19 or other cross-infection.
Hospitals and employers will now be able to use this guidance to coerce health workers, who are being told by their regulators that their responsibility is to follow the national guidelines, to risk their own lives when caring for patients.
It represents a tragic validation of those voices such as HCSA who have warned all along that PPE guidelines are being driven by disastrous supply problems and not safety.
It comes a week after the Secretary of State tried shamefully to lay the blame for PPE shortages on staff ‘overuse’.
It comes only a week after the government claimed in its PPE Plan that the country holds a stockpile sufficient to cope with an influenza pandemic where 50 percent of the population becomes symptomatic.
The phrase ‘lions led by donkeys’ has never felt more appropriate.
Our NHS workers are going above and beyond on a daily basis to heal. They are the most precious resource we have in the fight on Covid-19.
They should expect at the very least adequate protection to keep them fit and well to engage in this fight. Yet instead they are being asked to sacrifice themselves due to the failings of others.
They deserve better and their patients deserve better.
The government must come clean on PPE and set out how it intends to get on top of this disgraceful situation with actions, not spin or misdirection.
We expect those responsible to be held fully accountable for their abject failure to protect our heroic front-line staff.