NHS nurses across Leicestershire are unhappy about the declining quality of their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The issues have arisen over a number of weeks, affecting nurses working in NHS hospitals and out in the wider community, including midwives and district nurses.
Nurses are feeling increasingly unsafe at work as the number of daily COVID-19 cases continues to rise and with Leicestershire remaining in the ‘high’ tier of restrictions imposed by the government.
“There has been a massive decline in the last few weeks,” said one community nurse, whose colleagues conduct a lot of home visits and must ensure their safety in unknown environments.
“There have been constant changes and each set (of PPE) has got worse and worse,” she added. “Our masks are snapping as soon as we put them on, the aprons are terrible and you only have to look at a pair of gloves for them to rip.”
Nurses working in hospitals have also noticed a decline in quality over time and are unhappy with procedures. The problem is understood to stretch across many hospitals across the city and county, increasing anxiety across several county NHS Trusts.
“The quality of PPE has been affected massively,” said one nurse at Leicester General Hospital. “We’re having to deal with more infections now than at the height of the pandemic as we have resumed loads of operations and procedures.”
With routine procedures continuing to run as the number of COVID-19 cases rise, the situation with PPE across the county is worse than ever for many members of staff.
“But with the pandemic still going on, and more COVID-19 patients in hospital than in March, we’re using more PPE than ever. Cost-cutting measures have been taken and the quality of material is getting poorer,” she added.
“There have also been problems with standards of infection prevention as use of disposable aprons is not being managed properly.”
Staff have been told that downgrades have been made due to a lack of local NHS funding. No further explanation or solution has been offered.
The NHS Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups were asked for a comment but, at the time of publication, have not responded.
Leicestershire County Council’s Director of Public Health Mike Sandys has also failed to reply.