Lack of ventilators must not become ‘PPE, Part Two’

The NHS Confederation has warned that a lack of available ventilators during the coronavirus crisis must not become ‘PPE, Part Two’.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show earlier this week (5 April), health secretary Matt Hancock said there were between 9,000 and 10,000 ventilators in the NHS at present, along with 2,000 critical care beds spare with ventilator capacity.

In the interview, Mr Hancock said the original estimate that the NHS needed 30,000 ventilators was based on people not following social distancing measures.

‘My goal on ventilators is to get to 18,000 ventilator capacity and we are on track to meet that goal,’ he added.

But the director of the NHS Confederation, Dr. Layla McCay has warned that even with extra ventilators being bought, the health service is ‘far from the 18,000 target set by the government’.

‘Health leaders are telling us that they are anxious about how the system will ensure the machines go to the right places at the right time,’ said Dr. McCay.

‘We cannot afford for ventilator supply issues to become PPE, Part Two.

‘Also, it is right that staff in critical care, emergency departments and ambulance services are prioritised for testing of coronavirus, but our members are concerned about testing needing to be expanded to frontline workers across primary, community and social care too.

‘In many cases, these staff are the first port of call for those with suspected coronavirus,’ added the NHS Confederation director.

‘The virus is hitting all parts of the NHS hard, not just hospitals. With that, we need to see more effort being placed nationally on scaling up discharge planning so that those who are well enough can leave hospital as soon as possible.

‘Our members are getting increasingly concerned that they are seeing a rise in demand for healthcare services in the community from patients with much higher clinical need. Failing to address that could see many patients returning to hospital and adding to the pressures there.’

Photo Credit – orlobs (Pixabay)

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