NHS staff ready for coronavirus

NHS workers can cope with Coronavirus but will need resources says Unite biomedical scientist

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NHS biomedical scientist and Unite member Ian Evans twice volunteered in Sierra Leone during the Ebola Crisis.


Evans, who works in Brighton’s NHS pathology service, says staff will be able to cope with any spread of the coronavirus but will need extra resources and the support of the public to do it.


In an interview with UniteLive, Evans said, “The containment has been very good in the UK and hopefully people are taking notice of the simple precautions like washing their hands and calling 111 if they develop symptoms instead of arriving unannounced at a hospital. If staff are aware then everything can be done safely.”


Evans explained that health workers are more likely to be exposed “but their risk management is better, so as long as procedures are adhered to properly they should be all right”.


He added, “Staff are normally very good at contamination control, it’s usually the higher management and politicians with ties flapping everywhere who tend to be more lax.


“The bigger issue is the movement of the general public in and out of hospitals. For example, you can do your shopping in St Thomas’ in London and of course people want to visit their friends and relatives on wards. The pressure on staff could be immense if the public don’t follow the guidelines.”


Evans also questioned how government proposals to recruit retired staff and volunteers into hospitals to help deal with the virus would work.


“It sounds great but the question is where do you deploy them and how do you use them? Do they have the right skills? It normally takes four to six months to go through the recruitment process, so it won’t be easy and may not be as affective as it appears,” he said.


There are also issues over how the supply of medical equipment could be affected by the spread of the virus.


Evans explained, “Just as in manufacturing, medical supply lines could also be hit, which could cause equipment shortages.”


“The NHS will be able to deal with all this but it will need more money. For instance pathology services are already stretched. Do we shut down some areas? Surgeries are run down over Christmas but that’s only for a few days.


“The coronavirus is manageable but the guidelines have to be followed and the resources need to be there.”

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