The consequences of not having adequate personal protective equipment for NHS staff are devastatingBarely a day goes by without pictures online of frontline staff fashioning protection out of clinical waste bags. We need to ensure NHS staff are adequately protected so we don’t spread the infection between patients.
The challenge that coronavirus poses to our society is unprecedented. It is a scary and worrying time, especially for our NHS. Having worked as a frontline A&E doctor this weekend, in my local hospital, I am increasingly concerned that our health service may buckle under the increased strain that Covid-19 has brought.
Our only priority must be to protect lives. Every possible resource we have should be dedicated to that single objective. Crucially, our NHS and healthcare workers on the frontlines must be given whatever resources they need to tackle this and to save lives. It’s disheartening then, that basic resources are in short supply. Full personal protective equipment (PPE) is vital to not only protect frontline staff, but also to limit the spread of infection to our loved ones and to our patients.
The Government have known this crisis was coming for weeks, and yet they still have not been fully prepared for it. A country like the UK should not be having to ask manufacturing companies to switch production to provide emergency ventilators, or for NHS workers to have to go without PPE. The first part of my shift this weekend was spent looking for the correct masks and aprons - this is happening to frontline workers ahead of every shift, across the country. While we would all rather be treating patients, we have to ensure that we are adequately protected so we don’t spread the infection between patients. The consequences of this for NHS staff are devastating.
There’s a feeling amongst many frontline staff that protective equipment is already being rationed. A few weeks ago, the guidance for healthcare staff treating people with confirmed cases of Covid-19 was to wear a full FFP3 mask as well as gloves and a full apron - now, that guidance has changed and we are told to only wear gloves and a basic surgical mask. Barely a day goes by without pictures online of frontline staff fashioning protection out of clinical waste bags. We need full transparency on decisions and changes to guidance, otherwise concerns will only grow.
As this virus spreads, and as more and more people are forced into hospital, NHS workers are going to have to start making very difficult choices because of the limited resources they have available. They are going to have to start deciding who can access the most urgent care, including who is given priority for the last available ventilator - they’ll be making impossible choices about whose lives can be saved. We have already seen this happening in Italy, and it is an unimaginable tragedy for medics who are dedicated to saving lives above all else. The best way to help frontline staff who go to work to save lives, is for everyone else to stay home.
We will get through this, together. The Government must take responsibility for providing all the resources and equipment the NHS needs, including vital PPE, for communicating the message on social distancing clearly to the public, and for enforcing it robustly. I welcome the new, more stringent measures announced yesterday – however, as Mike Ashley has shown, there’s still room for people to exploit it.
As a country, we must do what will save the most lives. That’s true of the Government, people across the country, and medics on the frontline.
The faster we get on top of this disease, the faster our society will be able to tackle this virus, and fewer lives will be lost. If we all work together, keeping our communities safe, we can and we will save lives.
Sports Direct has shown exactly what not to do during this pandemic. If we’re to beat coronavirus, we have to be selflessThere seems to be a view amongst some under-70s, that coronavirus doesn’t really affect them and they don’t need to worry too much about it. I’ve listened to 69-year-olds tell me that because they themselves are fit and healthy, that it couldn’t possibly happen to them. Having just done a shift as a doctor in A&E over the weekend, I want to take this opportunity to warn people that this virus does not discriminate by age.
It was deeply, deeply eye-opening. Previously healthy people in their thirties and forties were seriously ill, some of them on ventilators. Being young does not grant you immunity to this disease. The symptoms of Covid-19 at its worst, are horrific. There can be no room for complacency.
Our health service is facing an unprecedented crisis. There is a limited amount of vital equipment, including personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and precious ventilators. Every extra person in hospital requiring treatment means there are fewer resources available for others.
London Covid-19 doctor says soon staff will be forced to choose whose life to saveRosena Allin-Khan, a Labour MP and A&E doctor, reveals ‘heart-wrenching’ decisions facing hospital workers
Rosena Allin-Khan, the Labour MP for Tooting and an A&E doctor, is still working regular shifts. On Sunday she worked at St George’s hospital in her south London constituency. She explains how the coronavirus pandemic has affected staff:
I’ve been an A&E doctor for 15 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this before. The departments are quieter because people are staying away from hospital, but the patients are sicker. We’re seeing a distinct rise in the numbers coming in with respiratory symptoms, who are testing Covid-19 positive.
On Sunday, very early in the morning, the entire resuscitation department, where the absolute sickest patients go, was full to capacity with patients with breathing difficulties. We had to move other very ill patients to the paediatric resuscitation area to keep them safe.
This is only set to get worse. We’re seeing patients now who would have only contracted the virus two weeks ago. In the coming 10 days we expect the entire A&E department will be taken up with suspected Covid-19 patients.
Doctors and nurses are brave, and the A&E department is known for being on the frontline and high risk, but there’s a palpable fear among staff for three reasons. Firstly, they’re frightened for their own health and those of the people they love. When I finished my shift yesterday, which was Mother’s Day, I came back to the house and I couldn’t touch or hug my two little girls until I put all my clothes in the wash and had a shower.
The second reason is that staff expect, very soon, potentially to have to make heart-wrenching choices about whose life can be saved if we don’t have enough ventilators. That goes counter to everything you’ve ever learned as a doctor or nurse – to make life-and-death decisions, where we could possibly have saved every one of those people, is unimaginable. This is what our colleagues in Italy are living through now.
Third, the patterns described thus far for symptoms of coronavirus are not what we’re now seeing in the emergency department. We’re seeing young, previously very healthy people, who are ill in hospital. Some are in their 30s, and they need ventilators to stay alive. Some patients are presenting with abdominal pain, which we hadn’t heard of before. A person can come in and say they have a stomach pain, and they’re put in the “green” area of the department – but then they mention they also have a cough. Everybody should be assumed to be Covid-positive until proven otherwise at this point.
There’s also a real concern among staff around the country about personal protective equipment. They either don’t have any, or if they do many feel it’s being rationed. It’s very hard to listen to some colleagues say that as a result of there not being enough equipment to go round, they’re resigned to catching the virus – it’s just a matter of when.
On social distancing, the messaging from the government hasn’t been clear enough. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has banned public gatherings of more than two people. It’s clear and easy to understand. There has to be no ambiguity in the language because people’s lives depend on it.
Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.
The MP for Tooting has been working in her local hospital where doctors and nurses are already dealing with cases of covid-19. She warns that many of those being treated are in their 30s and 40s.
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan is the MP for Tooting but she is also a practising doctor in A&E.
She regularly goes in to do shifts in her local hospital St George's and has been in contact with her colleagues.
This Sunday she took a record down for Mirror readers about the situation faced by nurses, doctors and others on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus.
She said her latest shift had been a "deeply, deeply eye-opening" experience with previously fit and healthy people in their 30s and 40s "attached to machines, fighting for their lives".
And she has been deeply critical of the approach taken by the government in tackling the spread of the deadly virus.
"The Prime Minister has been blase about this from the start, waiting for others to make decisions so he doesn't have to. It is costing lives," she said.
Mirror Diary - Sunday 22 March6.30am – Leaving the HouseOn the way to work in A&E, to help out the real heroes of the frontline – the NHS staff who work day-in, day-out to keep us all safe. I am a bit apprehensive after seeing the stories that are being reported about Covid-19 and having spoken to colleagues across the country, but we need to come together at times like these for our communities.
7am – Reporting for DutyJust finished handover, which is when the day shift gets given notes on the patients who have come in overnight. There’s a very real sense that the number of cases are growing extremely quickly, something that will present a real challenge in the coming days and weeks. Some of the sickest patients that have been admitted have been young – they’re in their 30s and 40s, previously fit and well, but now fighting for their lives in Intensive Care (ICU).
There was a lot of talk in January that this was a virus just like the flu that only affects older people – that simply isn’t the case. There’s a real sense of apprehension ahead of the shift – we’re all expecting a rocky road ahead in the coming days.
8am- Protective EquipmentThe first part of the shift was spent looking for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – these are masks and aprons that keep those working on the frontlines safe. While we’d all rather be treating patients, we have to ensure that we are adequately protected so we don’t spread the infection between patients.
Frontline staff across the country are scared. We’re scared that we’re going to lose patients – we have spent years training to save every life that we can. We are scared of passing this deadly virus onto our loved ones because we don’t always have the PPE that we so desperately need. We’re scared that that if we aren’t properly protected, that we run the risk of spreading the virus between patients.
It’s vital that people practice social distancing measures properly – crowded areas will only add to the number of cases, and the number of people being admitted into hospitals across the country. In the coming days and weeks, difficult decisions will be made by my colleagues in ICU about who gets a ventilator – it’s that serious.
Midday – Resus overwhelmedThe whole of resus is full of patients with respiratory problems – this is the part of A&E where the sickest patients go. Patients are arriving breathless, with crackles so fine in their lungs, you can hardly hear them.
Their X-rays show white lungs where normally, they would look clear and black, full of air. Major trauma, such as heart attacks and victims of car crashes, are now being moved into paediatric A&E. The situation around Covid-19 is clearly getting worse by the day.
The talk amongst the team is that we feel that we will be overwhelmed in the coming days. I’m going for a refresher course on ventilators for staff – they’re also training new staff on how to use ventilators. The talk is, of course, feeling quite bleak as the day goes on – but this is what we’ve all been trained for.
4pm – Leaving A&EJust leaving A&E now – it’s been a difficult shift and a difficult Mother’s Day. At times like these, we must think about our loved ones - if we want to protect those dearest to us, we must stay indoors.
I’ve just called my husband and asked him to let our daughters know that they won’t be able to cuddle me and give me their handmade presents when I get home.
Instead, I’ll be getting straight in the shower and throwing my clothes in the washing machine – it is our duty to protect the ones we love. If we all work together, keeping our communities safe, we can, and we will, save lives.
Former Labour MEP SEB DANCE explains why he is supporting Rosena Allin-Khan in the Labour deputy leadership race.
Britain has left the EU. As a former Labour Member of the European Parliament, as a Remainer, and as a proud pro-European, that’s still not an easy thing for me to say – but it’s the reality. There is no longer a campaign to remain. That doesn’t mean that Boris Johnson’s famous lie of “get Brexit done” has suddenly come true.
The ongoing negotiations with the EU will continue to define our country’s future for years to come. Perhaps one day the fight to join the EU will come. How soon that time comes depends on what we do next. Pro-Europeans must now fight for a close relationship between the UK and our friends in the EU and ongoing rights for UK citizens. The Labour Party must play a crucial role in that fight.
That’s why I’m supporting Doctor Rosena Allin-Khan to become the next deputy leader of Labour. Rosena was elected as the MP for Tooting the week before the EU referendum in 2016. Despite holding a shadow frontbench position, she refused to compromise on her principles or on the promises she’d made to her community, so she broke the whip and voted against triggering Article 50. Considering the shambles that followed Theresa May’s early triggering of Article 50, this has been conclusively demonstrated as the right decision.
Rosena was also the first shadow frontbench minister to come out publicly and call for a People’s Vote. This was an incredibly brave thing to do, at a time when Labour MPs and shadow ministers were being pressured not to speak out against the leadership’s position on Brexit. At a time when the leadership of Labour needed a firm push in the right direction, Rosena was the one brave enough to stand up and do it.
There are some voices in the Labour Party, who’ll try to convince you that Brexit was the only reason for Labour’s failure at the last general election – that backing a public vote cost us seats in the so-called ‘Red Wall’.
But this analysis is deeply misleading, and is simply not supported by the facts. Yes, of course Brexit was a divisive issue, for Labour as much as for anyone else.
The reality however, is that the overwhelming majority of Labour voters, members and supporters voted Remain, wanted us to stay in the EU and wanted a public vote on Brexit. That fact is as true of Labour voters in Redcar, Grimsby or Wakefield as it is of Labour voters in Oxford, Islington or Bristol – Labour’s share of the vote went down in 98% of all seats.
Labour’s position on Brexit was fatally undermined not because supporting a public vote was the wrong position for our voters, but because the leadership of the party took so long to get to that position. We sat in the middle of the road on the biggest issue of our time and neither side trusted us. We lost trust among all our communities.
Rosena knows this – she won’t stop standing up for our internationalist values. I joined the Labour Party because I believe in internationalism and solidarity across borders. So does Rosena. That’s why she’s worked across the world in conflict and disaster zones as a humanitarian doctor, and why she still does shifts in her local hospital as an A&E doctor alongside her work as an MP.
So if you are like me – a proud pro-European, an internationalist and a Labour supporter – and if you want someone as deputy leader who’ll stand up for those values, and who’ll fight for our country to maintain the closest possible relationship with the EU, protecting our workers’ rights, our environmental protections, our food standards, our NHS, and most importantly the rights of EU citizens living in the UK – then vote for Doctor Rosena. Together, let’s take Labour forward.
Rosena Allin-Khan MP: "I want to inspire Asians to own their identity”A CANDIDATE in the race for Labour’s deputy leadership has admitted the party “lost trust with voters” following its crushing defeat in the December general election.
Tooting MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan is up against fellow MPs Richard Burgon, Dawn Butler, Ian Murray and Angela Rayner in the race, triggered by Labour’s huge loss last year.
Suffering one of its worst results since 1935, Labour lost dozens of seats which they had held for decades, including a number of constituencies in the Midlands and northern England, which historically tended to support the party.
The loss was down to a lack of trust, Allin- Khan believes. “People, quite frankly, didn’t trust us to govern,” the MP told Eastern Eye. “We had a manifesto which I believe was full of good things, but voters didn’t trust us to deliver it.”
The party’s stance on Brexit was an additional factor – “we didn’t seem decisive enough” – and the level of anti-Semitism in the party and the way it was subsequently handled “closed a lot of doors”.
“I’ve been up and down the country talking to individuals, wondering why Labour lost, and I’ve been told by activists that people didn’t think we had our own house in order,” she said.
Today, she said, the most common concern of voters is the NHS, the level of safety on the streets and housing. “We need to show that the hopes and dreams that people have for themselves are the ones that we (Labour) have for them,” the mother-of-two said.
Next month’s contest will also see the unveiling of a new Labour leader, after Jeremy Corbyn announced he would be stepping down following the general election last year. Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey are in the running to lead the opposition party.
Allin-Khan, however, will not be voicing her support for any of the candidates as she believes the party needs to “heal all divisions (and) unite” after it fared so badly in the election.
“When I’m working in A&E and I see kids coming in with lung infections because of mouldy housing or I see kids who have to go to food banks (…) they don’t care if Labour is left, right or centre,” she explained. “So, the most important thing to move forward is to unite and I can show that by not nominating someone for leader.”
On her role in the deputy leadership race, Allin-Khan said she was determined to use it as an opportunity to help “ethnic minorities own their identity and be proud of it”. “That is what I want people to feel I embody when they look at me,” she explained. “For me, being in this race, if that is the one thing I get out of this…that other young British Asians can look at me and say, ‘if she can do it, I can do it too’, then that is my job done.”
Allin-Khan admitted she had faced prejudice due to her mixed Pakistani-Polish heritage and has received criticism that she “isn’t fully Asian”. In response to the comments, the MP is keen to highlight her mixed heritage does not make her Asian background any less “important, valuable or special.”
“I identify with being an Asian woman, in the same way that I am proud to be Polish,” she said. “Some people in the Asian community wonder how Asian I feel because I’m mixed race, but I’m proud to wear my sari and embrace my heritage.”
Some have even suggested that she change her forename to Rosie and take her husband’s surname to downplay her ethnicity. However, Allin-Khan is proud of her roots and is keen to emphasise it.
“I went double barrelled because I didn’t want to lose the Asian part of my surname and that for me, is very important,” she said. “I am proud to say that this is who I am – a Polish and Pakistani, proudly British Muslim woman who loves the Labour party.”
Born and brought up in Tooting in a working-class household, Allin-Khan described her young life as “tough”. Her mother worked three jobs to keep the family financially afloat, and Allin-Khan recalled there only being one heater in the house that they had to move from room to room to keep themselves warm.
Allin-Khan failed her A-Levels, citing the difficulties at home as a factor. Despite the setbacks, she still had a desire to study medicine. However, she was told “it wasn’t for girls like (her)”, as it was financially prohibitive, and she didn’t come from the “right background”.
Allin-Khan, who still works part-time as a doctor, knew she had to keep fighting if she wanted to pursue her dream career. “I think my upbringing led me to believe I had no choice but to sink or swim,” she said.
After resitting her A-Levels, the then-24-year-old accepted a place to study medicine at Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge, which was funded by scholarships. “I really believe that where you start off in life doesn’t need to dictate where you end up,” the A&E doctor said.
Although she credited her own resilience for her success, Allin-Khan believes the Labour government gave her an opportunity to fulfil her potential when things looked bleak. “The Labour government turned my life around,” the 43-year-old claimed. “I redid my A-Levels, did a degree and went to Cambridge to study medicine and I’m afraid those possibilities aren’t going to be there for a new generation of kids under this Tory government.”
Allin-Khan, the MP for Tooting since 2016, admitted the biggest challenge of her involvement in politics is racism. She often faces abuse on social media and is mostly targeted for her Muslim beliefs.
“When I look at the order in which my abuse comes, it is Muslim first, then my Asian heritage comes second,” she admitted. “My gender is third. Without a doubt, the amount of abuse is a huge challenge.”
It is a concern that young BAME women may be deterred from entering politics due to the abuse other politicians have faced, she said. In response, Allin-Khan regularly engages with schools and community groups to encourage young people to “keep going and not to lose faith”.
There is also a level of racism in the House of Commons, she said, highlighting that she is the first Muslim person ever to make it on to the deputy leadership ballot. Although it is encouraging to see more women and ethnic minority politicians in parliament, Allin-Khan believes there is “still a ceiling on what we can achieve”.
Recently, Allin-Khan approached a “prominent BAME politician” to ask them to consider nominating her in the deputy leadership contest. However, the politician responded: “I’m only in the game of backing winners and you don’t look like you’ve got any chance of winning.”
“We can’t have that attitude towards people, and I’ve said in my grassroots revival plan that our BAME communities can’t be an afterthought when it comes to supporting people to hold public office,” she said. “We need to be seeing ethnic minorities at the top of our party, on the front benches.
“I’ve smashed that ceiling, but I plan to throw the ladder down and say people ‘come up behind, you can do this.’ But I know it isn’t easy.”
My pledge to rebuild confidence in LabourI never imagined that one day I’d become an MP, or now a candidate to become the next Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Growing up, I was regularly told that ‘girls like me’ from ‘backgrounds like mine’ wouldn’t amount to anything. I never planned to go into politics - I always wanted to be a doctor. The last Labour Government gave me that chance, allowing me to study Medicine aged 24 after failing my A-Levels the first time around because of pressures at home. This shaped the person that I am today and has given me the fire in my belly to ensure that no other child feels that there is a ceiling on what they can achieve.
When I work shifts as an A&E doctor at my local hospital, I see first-hand the issues facing our communities today. I treat young people who come to A&E after self-harming, I treat those who haven’t been able to access mental health services for years, and yes, I treat victims of violent crime.
To see a young person breathe their last breath is a pain that never leaves you. Teenage boys, once full of bravado on the street, with the words “Born to die” tattooed on their chests, victims of horrific stab wounds, laying there crying out for their mothers. The sound of a parent grieving for their child is universal - it can’t be forgotten.
As the MP for Tooting, I have worked incredibly closely with community groups and young people to try and tackle the rise of violent crime in our society. I’ve organised summits with representatives from local community organisations, charities, the police, the Chief Executive of Wandsworth Council and the Deputy Mayor for Policing, to start tackling this problem from a community perspective. Working with affected communities is paramount in order to resolve these critical issues once and for all.
As a keen boxer myself, I have promoted the work of local boxing clubs to tackle violent crime. Boxing is far more than just a sport - for many, it’s family. Clubs offer an opportunity for local young ¬people to make friends, engage with sport and receive mentorship. So much of gang culture and violence is about a sense of belonging. We have a duty to show young people that, if you can gain respect in the ring, you do not have to get respect from violence on the street.
One of the reasons I decided to run to become the next Deputy Leader of the Labour Party is because it would give me the platform to give a voice to the voiceless. Whether it’s children losing their lives to senseless violence, older people being unable to access safe and decent social care, or refugees fleeing violence and persecution, their voices must be amplified.
A platform alone isn’t enough though - Labour needs to be in power to affect real change for the most vulnerable in our communities. As Deputy Leader, I will rebuild our movement into one people can vote for. A party people can trust. The door may have closed on 12 December for a generation’s hopes and ambitions, but with the right leadership team in place in the Labour Party, it will not be closed for good. We need to win the next General Election, and we must listen to our voters ahead of the Mayoral election in May. As Deputy Leader, it will be my responsibility to rebuild trust, not just with the grassroots of our party, but with voters. Together, we can take Labour forward.
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan is MP for Tooting and candidate for Deputy Leader of Labour
NHS workers battling coronavirus are facing a “national shortage” of protective clothing, HuffPost UK has been told.Labour MP Rosena Allin-Khan, a working doctor who still works shifts in A&E, said scientists had told her that there were not enough body suits in the right sizes, while some doctors were only now starting to receive protective clothing.
It came amid new official estimates suggesting 5,000 to 10,000 people in the UK have coronavirus, leaving many doctors, nurses and other health workers at risk of infection.
Last month, the World Health Organisation also warned that there was a global shortage of protective masks and body suits.
One NHS source who worked at a hospital where coronavirus patients were being treated told HuffPost UK: “There were staff forced to wear oversized suits because that’s all they had.
“All we have left is XL.
“There is a national shortage of suits but this was raised with the government at least three weeks ago so something should have been done.”
Appearing on HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast, Allin-Khan repeated the concerns.
“I held a meeting today with some people from the scientific community and they said their concern was though they had been testing out various modes of protective clothing, it turns out that there is a lack of the clothing they need available, the sizes aren’t available,” she said.
“Just yesterday - because people still contact me because I’m a doctor still, to let me know what’s going on - someone said they were a GP and had only started receiving the necessary protective clothing yesterday and this has been going on for a month now.
The Labour deputy leadership candidate criticised the government for moving too slowly to tackle from coronavirus.
In a departure from Labour’s broad support for the government, Allin-Khan called for tougher measures to tackle the outbreak, including testing those with symptoms for the virus as a matter of course.
Allin-Khan said the government’s testing programme could be “more robust”, reporting that “friends in the NHS” said people were being given “really unclear messaging”.
She gave an example of two people who returned from northern Italy who phoned NHS 111 and were told to wait for a call back which did not come for five days, during which time they self isolated.
When they eventually spoke again to NHS staff, they had to give their details again and had to self-isolate for eight days before finally being tested for coronavirus.
Test results are also taking three to five days to materialise.
Allin-Khan said: “We need to be moving quicker, people need to have a better idea of how to access testing, what it means for their daily lives.
“The messaging needs to be clearer and the testing needs to be more robust.”
She added: “We should have moved into the delay phase sooner than now and I don’t think we should measure our performance compared to what other countries are doing.
“I think we should be looking at what’s best for us and when you look at the fact that China had the same number of cases that we already have surpassed before implementing measures we do need to be listening to what the other scientific community, for example some eminent epidemiologists, listen to what they’re saying.
“Because ultimately we can’t leave the scientific community to be scapegoated for the government making bad decisions if they are proven to be wrong.”
Allin-Khan meanwhile sidestepped questions on whether she wants to be shadow health secretary under the next Labour leader.
“I like to focus on one thing at a time, genuinely, and I don’t think you should ever have a plan B because that’s implying you’ve accepted that your plan A won’t work out,” she said.
“So I am genuinely, steely focused on winning this deputy leadership bid.”
Put to her that she would be a good fit for the job, she replied: “Well I am a practising NHS doctor and I have got a master’s degree in public health and I care about our party so that’s honestly for whoever is the leader to decide.”