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Western Trust using up to five times more protective equipment during COVID-19 crisis

PPE

NHS guidance on PPE use

The Western Trust has highlighted the astronomical increase in demand for protective gear during the coronavirus pandemic.

Providing an update on how the Trust is managing the COVID-19 crisis, Finance Director Neil Guckian gave an example of the most common surgical mask and said that pre-crisis around 2,000 units would be used per day, last week in excess of 8,000 masks were being used each day.

The Western Trust serves a population of about 300,000 from Derry to Enniskillen with Altnagelvin being its largest hospital.

Mr Guckian said the Trust has been adhering to government guidance and is doing its best both internally and with the independent sector to ensure adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are being delivered on a daily basis.

“Our local population have made many donations of PPE and I want to acknowledge that.  We do have to go through a very sophisticated process to assure ourselves in relation to our donations to make sure they do actually meet the certification requirements that we have in health and social care in Northern Ireland.

“But when we go through all of those we will be availing of our donations accordingly and I want to thank everyone who has donated to that,” he explained.

There are three different drop off points in the Trust area and each has its own processes for ensuring that donated stock gets into the mainstream.

It is important, Mr Guckian said, to stress to the public that if you have any concerns you must continue to present yourself to the appropriate service at all times.

He went on to thank the public for their efforts, social distancing and isolation have helped significantly to keep the number of cases and deaths ‘relatively low’ in the Western Trust area.

PPE is running low because of global demand and there is a shortage of water repellent materials such as gowns.  “There has been difficulty in sourcing reliable supplies of a few of the items that we have.”

An example was given of the more generic fluid resistant surgical masks: the Trust would normally use 2,000 a day, a few weeks ago it increased to 5,000 a day, a week ago 8,000 and last week it used between 50,000-70,000 masks in a single week.

Mr Guckian commented: “Clearly that would put pressure on any stock holding.  We would generally hold between 6 and 12 weeks stock of a given item but 6 to 12 weeks stock in the current pandemic would be equivalent of one day’s usage.

“Clearly that puts pressure on our stock holding but we have managed to avail of regional stocks, we’ve got some stocks in from the NHS supply chain and we have regionally got a pandemic store which thankfully we’ve been able to avail of to top up our local stocks.”

He concluded by saying patient and staff safety is the ‘number one priority’ at this time and everything is being done to ensure every member of staff has the PPE they need.

For donations of unopened/unused PPE or non-perishable food or toiletries, contact the Health Improvement Team on health.improvement@westerntrust.hscni.net or (028) 7186 5127.

Please contact the team prior to making your donation or travelling to a drop-off centre.

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