FEWER than 32,000 surgical gowns were held in a central NHS Shared Service Partnership in Wales when the first coronavirus case hit the country, research by the Rhondda MS has found.
In an answer to a question submitted by Leanne Wood to the Health Minister, it has emerged that just 31,697 gowns were held by the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnerships central stores when the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Wales at the end of February.
While this is in addition to stock held by individual NHS organisations, the number of gowns held in the shared service partnership is dwarfed by other items of essential equipment they held.
The answers revealed that – at the same time – the shared partnership held 1,575,035 eye protectors, 4,901,870 face masks, 33,800,150 gloves and 893,025 FFP3 respirators.
Some NHS Trusts in England were getting through 150,000 gowns a day at the height of the coronavirus outbreak according to Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers.
This follows on from the news revealed in a letter from the Labour First Minister to Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price that there were no gowns in the pandemic stockpile between June 2016 and February 2020.
Ms Wood said this proves that the Labour Government was ill-prepared for Covid-19.
“I was surprised to see how few gowns were held in the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnerships central stores by the end of February when Wales had its first coronavirus case,” said Ms Wood.
“The central stock was a just a fifth of what a busy hospital trust in England would be using in a day at the height of the outbreak in the UK. It was clearly not enough.
“Despite having stark warnings from other countries like China and Italy who had the virus before us, the Labour Government was ill-prepared by the time the first case was detected. In any case, Governments had been warned for years that a pandemic posed one of the biggest threats to life.
“This poor government planning meant that many staff were dealing with infected patients without the proper PPE recommended by the World Health Organisation. This situation seems to have been worst in care homes.
“This is unacceptable and deserves to be scrutinised, no matter how much the Labour Minister may not like it.
“The Government’s job is to make sure that there is enough PPE for all the staff that require it in order to safeguard them and stop the spread of the virus.
“On this count, the Labour Government has failed.”
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