Unsuitable PPE received from China will be replaced; Surgeon warns medical staff making their own

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said that the 20% of personal protective equipment (PPE) received from China that is not suitable will be corrected in further deliveries due later this week.
Unsuitable PPE received from China will be replaced; Surgeon warns medical staff making their own

Additional reporting by Sarah Slater

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said that the 20% of personal protective equipment (PPE) received from China that is not suitable will be corrected in further deliveries due later this week.

The HSE has been in direct discussions with the manufacturers in China from whom the PPE was sourced, Mr Coveney told the Morning Mix show on South East radio.

The next shipment this week will contain replacements for the unsuitable 20% delivered last week.

“The HSE has done an incredible job here,” Mr Coveney said.

Internationally there is significant demand for PPE and Ireland managed to “nail down” a delivery that other countries “are envious of.”

The procurement team have been doing a great job, he added.

Testing will also significantly increase this week with some kits being sent to Germany for testing while laboratories in Ireland are waiting for new stocks of reagent.

When asked would Ireland receive credit for the incorrect 20% of equipment, Mr Coveney said that will be part of the current negotiations.

“We will make sure we get value for money.”

But the priority was ensuring that health care workers are protected.

The volume and quantity of PPE was a priority, cost was secondary, he said.

A hospital surgeon has said that the lack of PPE has led to doctors making their own and manufacturing their own sanitiser.

Dr Pat Rohan, from Wexford General Hospital’s Department of Surgery said that it is not acceptable when everyone needs to be as safe as possible during the Covid-19 crisis.

They need to be protected and kept as safe as possible, he said.

Approximately 18% or 1,000 cases of Covid-19 diagnoses in Ireland are reported to be in active healthcare workers.

Dr Rohan said a positive test in a healthcare worker obligates at least 14 day period of isolation and that

“Our healthcare professionals need to be protected - they need personal protective equipment (PPE), including scrubs, gloves, goggles, face-masks and respirators.

Seeing GPs make their own PPE from hardware stores is not acceptable. A doctor manufacturing their own alcohol hand sanitisers is not acceptable.

"In the short term, we need to be inventive but as safe as possible.

“Although in hindsight the warning signs from Wuhan were there and SARS/MERS alerted us to the pandemic potential of these viruses, the extent of this pandemic was difficult to comprehend.

“Our healthcare professionals are working tirelessly against one of the greatest challenges to ever confront our health service.

"Our hospitals are staffed by doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, porters, cleaners, administrative staff among others.

"These are the front-line workers who put themselves (and as a result their families) at risk on a daily basis.”

Dr Rohan’s comments, in this month’s Irish Medical Journal, are supported by three other colleagues, some of whom are Irish working in Canada and the US and they are urging that, “we need to continue to think outside the box, to ensure the most basic of equipment is available to those who need it now and potentially in the future".

However, the doctors, pointed out that medical professionals and companies across the world, people of diverse backgrounds and experience are offering ideas and specialised skills to crowd-source solutions to Covid-19, including the Open Source Covid-19 Medical Supplies (OSCMS) group and supply needs to be kept in the hands of the manufacturing professionals

Methods with acceptable decontamination and preservation of filtration function have been adapted to clinical use in the current pandemic, including ultraviolet light germicidal irradiation and microwave steam heating - an avenue under development between the HSE and Trinity College.

Dr Rohan added: “The government is making huge efforts to increase the supply of PPE (with) 10 air freighters are en route to China at a cost of nearly €230 million.

“There are others, not directly involved in healthcare that should examine their supply chain to help meet the demands from this all-Ireland effort; local businesses such as O’Neill’s sportswear have begun to manufacture scrubs in Ireland.

“These are testing times and no doubt everyone is playing their part by social and physical distancing."

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