NHS staff are making improvised masks out of snorkels, buying kit from hardware stores and using school science goggles to protect themselves in anticipation of a rise in coronavirus cases, it has emerged.
Doctors and nurses said they were being forced to improvise as they worried about access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). A consultant anaesthetist working in south-east England reported buying 60 snorkels to adapt into respirator masks.
“Various other places are doing the same,” the doctor told the Guardian. “One trust has ordered 500 and teamed up with companies who are (3D) printing the adapters.”
Samantha Batt-Rawden, the president of that Doctors’ Association UK, said:
“It is unacceptable that ongoing shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) have led to this desperate situation. We have heard from numerous frontline NHS doctors who have been forced to improvise as they simply don’t have access to appropriate kit.
“Many doctors have told us they have also had to buy their own respirator masks from hardware stores, while others have reached out to schools and laboratories for protective glasses. Some have approached 3D printing companies to have batches of visors made. In the wake of the tragic death of three frontline NHS doctors, it is now vital the government act to protect the frontline.”
PPE used by doctors treating contagious patients includes visors, gowns, gloves and masks with varying levels of protection. The most sought-after is a FFP3 mask, with the highest safety levels, but they are in short supply globally. #ProtectTheFrontline