Coronavirus: Ipswich and Colchester hospital boss 'sources PPE from DIY shops'

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Nick Hulme
Image caption,
Nick Hulme is CEO of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust

A health boss said his hospital is trying to source personal protective equipment (PPE) from DIY shops and factories amid fears over shortages.

Nick Hulme said supplies were "holding up" but Ipswich and Colchester hospitals were "looking at alternatives".

Mr Hulme said he wanted to provide "gold standard" gowns, but warned teams may "have to make some compromises".

The government said it was "working around the clock" to provide equipment.

Mr Hulme, chief executive of the trust running Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, said staff had the equipment they needed, and he was receiving four-hourly updates on stocks.

Alternatives to the recommended water-repellent gowns used in by intensive care or surgery teams had not been used but he stressed it was "important that we've got a contingency given this is an international problem".

"We are looking at alternatives. We are talking to schools, we are talking to local factories, we are talking to DIY shops for coveralls," he said.

"We are talking to [nuclear power plant] Sizewell who may be able to help with some of the protective equipment."

By 21 April, the trust had recorded the deaths of 178 patients with coronavirus.

Mr Hulme said intensive care units had been full at times, but the hospitals had plans to expand capacity if needed.

He also voiced concerns that many non-coronavirus patients were not coming to hospital, with cancer referrals seeing a "significant reduction".

Mr Hulme said he had faith "everybody is doing their very best" to ensure enough supplies of equipment reached the front line, adding "sources and the supply chain" were behind the problems rather than lack of funding.

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