The first health workers in Britain have died due to coronavirus.
Amged el-Hawrani, a doctor based in Leicestershire, died after testing positive for Covid-19 at the weekend. His case follows the deaths of London-based surgeon Adil el-Tayar and Essex GP Habib Zaidi.
Meanwhile, West Midlands nurse Areema Nasreen was fighting for her life in intensive care after contracting coronavirus.
Health workers fear that more of their colleagues will die without the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet medical journal, slammed the Tory government’s coronavirus strategy as “nothing short of a national scandal” in a devastating article.
“We should not be in this position,” he said. “We knew in the last week of January that this was coming.
“We then wasted February when we could have acted, could have got personal protective equipment ready and disseminated.”
Horton singled out the problem of equipping workers with the correct PPE.
“I’m hearing that not only is PPE not available, it’s the wrong kind of PPE and what we have isn’t even WHO standard,” he said.
“The hypocrisy of clapping NHS workers and yet the government not supporting them to go into that frontline is tragic and it was preventable.”
Dave Prentis of UNISON has written to the Prime Minister about the lack of PPE:
“As you have repeatedly said, the value of public service workers has never been clearer. UNISON is demanding you provide them with protection, as they seek to protect us all.
“Public service employees are still in their workplaces because they need and want to be. But their selfless acts must not place them at risk.
“Too many feel like they’ve been forgotten – their safety a mere afterthought, despite the critical work they continue to do.
“Many promises have been made by your government, but promises don’t protect people. Every public service worker without adequate PPE is a potential spreader of this deadly virus or even a future patient.
“Every public service worker who catches the virus is another vital cog removed from the machinery of a society already struggling to cope.
“UNISON will continue to work with you to tackle this unprecedented crisis and ensure public service employees can continue to work safely.
“But we can only do this if all public service workers can be assured they’re not putting themselves, their family members or those they care for and support at-risk through a lack of necessary protective equipment.”