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HOSPITAL staff have reportedly been issued with protective equipment which is almost 20 years old.
Staff at Barnsley Hospital in Yorkshire say that the age of some equipment has been hidden by a sticker put over the date of manufacture, with one batch of face masks dated 2001.
General union GMB said that the desperate attempt at disguise exposes the failure of the government to provide health workers with the personal protective equipment (PPE) they desperately need to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
The union says that hospital staff are accused of “scaremongering” if they raise the issue.
GMB organiser Ben Kirkham said: “Giving horrified workers out-of-date equipment is disrespectful and downright dangerous.
“Slapping stickers over the use-by date won’t make masks work and keep staff safe.
“It's scary enough working in over-stretched, coronavirus-riddled hospitals with colleagues dropping like flies.
“Unless the staff are appropriately protected, so many will end up with symptoms there won’t be enough staff left to look after the patients.”
A statement from Barnsley Hospital said that masks are supplied through the national NHS supply chain and “are rigorously tested to British Safety Standards to ensure they are both safe and appropriate to use clinically.”
It said that tests on PPE “to see if it is possible to extend their life via accelerated age testing” are being carried out.
“The products that pass these stringent tests are subject to re-labelling with a new shelf-life as appropriate and can continue to be used safely.
“All masks that do not meet the required standards are destroyed.”
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