Insects 'Crept Out' Of PPE Box In Hospital, MPs Told

Former senior nurse describes receiving botched protective gear at the height of the pandemic as "the most frightening thing I have had to deal with."

A former senior nurse has described how quality controls on PPE became so uncertain that when she opened one box of protective gowns “insects crept out”.

Dr Emily McWhirter, from the Royal College of Nursing, told the Commons public accounts committee on Thursday that the Easter weekend as coronavirus spread across the UK was the “most frightening” of her 30 years in the job.

She told MPs the supply of protective equipment for NHS staff “fizzled out” as March progressed.

“We did receive some stock where the elastics on the masks were just rotten they just broke, you couldn’t use them, they didn’t create any sort of seal,” she said.

McWhirter was the director of nursing at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in London.

“I had a box of gowns that I opened and a load of insects crept out of them, god knows where they came from,” she said.

“We were sent gowns from nail bars,” McWhirter added of the struggle to secure supplies. “And masks from beauty salons.”

On another consignment she said the expiry dates were “covered over with new dates” because the products had expired.

“It was absolutely the most frightening thing I have had to deal with,” she said of the Easter period.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the chair of the Council of the British Medical Association (BMA), told the committee the lack of PPE was a “national emergency in the middle of April” but things improved from May.

A National Audit Office (NAO) report published in November found the UK spent £10bn extra in inflated prices for safety kit due to an “inadequate” stockpile and a surge in global demand.

The government spending watchdog’s study concluded the country’s stockpiles were not equipped for a coronavirus-style pandemic and there were limited supplies of key items, with not enough gowns to provide even a single day’s protection to health workers and only seven days’ worth of aprons.


What's Hot