Coronavirus: Gareth Thomas questions Northwick Park Hospital safety

The Harrow West MP claims that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not “providing the assurances” to keep NHS staff at Northwick Park Hospital safe.

MP Gareth Thomas used the final Prime Minister’s Questions before the Easter to address the issues of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Northwick Park Hospital.

One frontline worker told the Harrow Times that staff felt a sense of “paranoia” after shifts dealing with a large influx of Covid-19 patients, and limited amounts of PPE.

He explained that people were concerned as there was a confusion on how the equipment should be issued, and that the workers were not being tested if they showed symptoms of Covid-19.

Mr Thomas raised the question, asking: “The Prime Minister will understand that there is considerable concern about the situation at Northwick Park Hospital, which serves my constituents and many others, given the critical incident there last week and, tragically, that it has recorded one of the highest levels of deaths so far.

“Will he therefore tell the House when he expects the staff at the hospital to have access to the high-grade personal protection equipment they need, and, crucially, to testing equipment as and when they need it in order to keep them safe, to prevent the risk of cross-infection and to keep their loved ones safe?”

The Prime Minister responded: “The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to raise the issue of Northwick Park. It has had a consignment in the last few days, and we will keep those supplies coming.”
The hospital declared a “critical incident” last week due to the rising numbers of coronavirus patients, which lasted for 24 hours before it was stood down.

In a message to staff, the hospital said it has been contacting neighbouring hospitals about transferring patients requiring critical care to other sites, as they did not have enough space.

After the Parliamentary Questions, Mr Thomas added: “This response will be deeply concerning for many healthcare workers on the front-line in Northwick Park Hospital.

“The Prime Minister is not providing the assurances necessary to keep staff, their patients and their families safe. If we are going arrive at the promised 250,000 tests a day, we are going to need to start with those working on the front-line.”

The worker at Northwick Park Hospital claimed that staff were “overwhelmed” with patients, and it caused issues including incorrect guidance by other staff on which equipment was needed while at the Intensive Care Unit with Covid-19 positive patients.
In one instance, the worker and his colleague were told that they didn’t have to wear a visor while in ITU. However, after a disagreement, they were offered visors.

He explained: “When we finished, we threw everything away to prevent contamination, but once we came out one of the nurses asked us where our visors were. We explained we threw it away and then the nurse said we have to reuse them.”

After another disagreement, they were given one new visor to share between the two of them – which another nurse later agreed that was the wrong thing to do.

Some wards have also taken matters into their own hand, purchasing large stocks of aprons and face masks due to the limited amount at the hospital.

The last NHS England update showed there were a further 21 patients with coronavirus who died between Friday March 20 and March 23 at the London North West University Healthcare Trust, in Northwick Park and Ealing Hospital.

As of March 25, there are 145 known cases of Covid-19 in Harrow, and 192 in the neighbouring borough, Brent.

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