NHS asks DIY stores to donate protective equipment to staff on the coronavirus frontline

Fears that doctors and nurses are being left exposed to infection while treating patients

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Nurses at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow were forced to use bin bags due to the lack of PPE kit available

NHS suppliers are asking DIY stores to donate visors and glasses to hospital staff, amid concern that rising numbers of medics are falling ill after exposure to coronavirus.

The Health Care Supply Association (HCSA) has urged hardware stores to come forward in a bid to meet desperate demands for protective equipment. 

The body, which represents those working in hospital supplies, sent out a public message, which said: "If any DIY stores want to help at this time then donating supplies of visors and glasses will greatly help NHS staff."

A number of hospitals have made appeals online for basic supplies. On Friday, South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust appealed for donations of soap sachets for staff. 

The Department of Health and Social Care has insisted there are sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), but has said there are problems getting the equipment to the right places. 

Amazon and other firms have reportedly been approached by the Government about delivering coronavirus test kits to frontline healthcare staff.

Medical and social care workers would be first to receive them, with the idea of distributing kits to people at home being explored later, according to The Financial Times.

There is mounting concern about the number of frontline NHS staff apparently contracting the virus after treating patients.

At least seven doctors at a single hospital - University College London - are feared to have been infected.

Meanwhile, a senior nurse at Northwick Park hospital in Harrow said around 10 healthcare workers were being treated by their own colleagues after falling sick.

"It's horrendous," she told The Telegraph.

"But what can you expect when we don't have the proper equipment? We're just the same as everyone else - except we are around the virus every single day."

Nurses have asked the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to personally intervene to ensure NHS workers get the masks, gloves and other protection they need  as illustrated in the below graphic – while treating Covid-19 patients.

In a letter to Mr Johnson, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Our members have been unstinting in their dedication and professionalism to protecting the health and well-being of the United Kingdom - they must be supported by the Government and health sector in return.

"Our members are coming out of retirement, students are interrupting their studies, and nursing staff are deploying from non-clinical settings, all to support the frontline in the battle against Covid-19.

"We ask you to personally intervene and act to ensure enough supply of PPE and testing for Covid-19 is available for all nursing staff and our colleagues across the health and care system."

Earlier, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, admitted there have been "challenges" with the supply of PPE to frontline NHS staff after a doctors' leader said they felt they were being treated like "cannon fodder".

Amid reports that a number of medics are seriously ill after becoming infected with Covid-19, including a nurse with no underlying health issues, Mr Hancock said the armed forces were being drafted in to help distribute PPE supplies to the health service.

Mr Hancock said: "I am determined to ensure that the right kit gets to the right hospital, the right ambulance service, the right doctors' surgery, right across the country.

"There have been challenges and I can see that. We're on it and trying to solve all the problems."

Amazon declined to comment.