FIFTY doctors in Britain will die fighting coronavirus if vital equipment is not urgently brought to the front line, a leading medic has warned.
Rinesh Parmar, chairman of the Doctors’ Association, issued the grim prediction as medics said they were “like lambs to the slaughter” in the battle against Covid-19.
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The deadly virus has claimed the lives of at least nine UK medics, including nurse Aimee O’Rourke, 39, and healthcare assistant Thomas Harvey, 57.
And Dr Parmar said deaths in the medical community could overtake numbers in Italy, where more than 50 have lost their lives.
He said: “I worry that if we don’t sort out our issues with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and testing of frontline staff in the coming days that we will start to follow a trend that’s very similar with Italy. I dread to think how high it could go.”
He said he knew of many medics who had bought their own PPE.
And he said intensive care doctors and anaesthetists had been carrying out the highest-risk procedure — putting a patient on a ventilator — with masks that expired five years ago.
He said: “We want our friends and colleagues to be safe in what they’re doing.
“But if the PPE dries up and we have no choice but to treat our patients without the right equipment, I worry it’s going to go in excess of 50.”
He spoke out as a medic at the hospital where Aimee died said yesterday NHS workers were “petrified” as staff numbers on some wards plunge to less than 50 per cent.
The frontline nurse at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital, in Margate, Kent, said staff were off due to illness, self-isolation — and fear.
She added: “Staff are really frightened and are not coming in, or they are ill or in self-isolation.
“Aimee’s death has hit everyone hard and had a massive impact on morale.
“To put it frankly, people are frightened — and don’t want it happening to them.”
PUTTING THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE
And a junior doctor at a busy Essex hospital said in a stinging social media post that NHS staff were being sent like “lambs to the slaughter” to fight the virus.
The doctor warned that more medics will die because NHS managers were stopping them from using the right equipment.
The doc added: “Doctors are dying. Nurses are dying.
“We are scared — scared for our patients, scared for our families, scared for our colleagues and we are scared for ourselves.”
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The Sun on Sunday has learned that nurses battling Covid-19 in one of the North’s biggest hospitals have been wearing swimming goggles and ski masks due to a lack of protective equipment.
Meanwhile, a nurse answering the call to rejoin the NHS has tearfully admitted she knows she is putting her life on the line.
Laura Hindle, 38, said pals have told her horror stories about the realities for those treating victims.
She insisted she is ready to help the country win the war against the coronavirus — but has still not had a test to make sure she does not have the virus herself.
In a moving video, which Laura has shared with The Sun on Sunday, Laura said: “I know I am putting myself in danger.
“My friends on A&E are telling me about the PPE shortage, the workload and the lack of swabbing.
“I have several friends who have tested positive.
“I know I could well end up a statistic as well.
“But we are in this together and we must remain together.”
Laura worked as an A&E nurse until five years ago but left to work at a children’s hospice.
She is now waiting to return to frontline duty at the Royal Preston Hospital.
But she said the lack of testing was forcing her to go to extraordinary lengths to stay safe.
COMMONS Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has blasted “reckless” health chiefs for closing an A&E department during the coronavirus crisis.
He claimed they used the pandemic as “cynical cover” to win a three-year battle to cut his local hospital’s services.
Chorley and South Ribble Hospital’s troubled emergency department was downgraded to an urgent care centre by its debt-plagued NHS trust.
Local MP Sir Lindsay asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock to step in.
He said: “The timing’s beyond stupid. When everybody’s increasing the level of care this trust wants to reduce it.”
Lancs Teaching Hospitals Trust called it part of a plan to “save lives”.
FIRST BRITISH-MADE VENTILATORS
Laura said: “My step-children aren’t coming round any more, we are using FaceTime.
“My husband and I will be sleeping separately and I’ve got my own bathroom.
“I’ve got to help my colleagues.”
The Laura Hyde Foundation, a nurses’ charity, said it was vital testing was ramped up to ensure nurses who want to return to work can do safely.
During today's daily coronavirus briefing, Cabinet minister Michael Gove said 300 ventilators from China had arrived.
He also said the first new British-made ventilators will be ready this weekend.
The British-made ventilators are being made by a consortium of aerospace, engineering and Formula One teams.
Mr Gove said as many as 1,000 a day will be produced by next week.
He said: “The more ventilators, invasive and non-invasive, available to the NHS, the more patients get the care they need, when they need it.
“But the process of design, assembly, testing and manufacture does take time and we need to make sure that these devices are safe and their manufacture scaleable.”
Elsewhere, some of Britain’s sick children have been transferred to a hospital where 73 staff were found to have coronavirus — and 315 were self-isolating last week.
Paediatric patients from University College London Hospitals, North Middlesex University Hospital, Whittington Health Trust and the Royal Free in the capital have been moved to Great Ormond Street as a result of the crisis.
UCLH said: “Our hard-working staff are doing everything to ensure we are prepared for a potential increase in patients due to the coronavirus. This includes different hospitals coming together so we can continue to give people the best care possible.”
Great Ormond Street Hospital said: “We continue to monitor Covid-19-related staff absence carefully, which currently equates to six per cent of our workforce and are able to fully staff all of the services we have planned to run at this time.”
Meanwhile, Watford General Hospital has declared a critical incident relating to “oxygen equipment” and is telling all patients except pregnant women to stay away. But it said there was no risk to patients.
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