UK COVID-19 Daily: 'NHS saved my life' PM says

  • Tim Locke, Medscape.com

  • UK Medical News
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These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about Sunday.

PM: 'NHS Saved My Life'

The Prime Minister released a video message thanking NHS staff for saving his life.

He was discharged from London's St Thomas' Hospital earlier today. A Downing Street spokesperson said that on the advice of his medical team Boris Johnson would not be back at work immediately. He will continue his recovery at his country residence, Chequers.

Mr Johnnson was admitted to hospital last Sunday evening for persistent symptoms of COVID-19. He was moved to intensive care on Monday and spent 3 nights there.

His fiancee Carrie Symonds tweeted: "There were times last week that were very dark indeed. My heart goes out to all those in similar situations, worried sick about their loved ones."

In his video message on Twitter Mr Johnson singled out two nurses, Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal, who he said "stood by my bedside for 48 hours when things could have gone either way".

He said: "It is hard to find the words to express my debt to the NHS for saving my life."

Deaths

"Today marks a sombre day in the impact of this disease as we join the list of countries who have seen more than 10,000 deaths related to coronavirus," Health Secretary for England Matt Hancock told the daily Downing Street briefing.

A further 737 deaths of UK hospital patients who tested positive for COVID-19 were reported on Sunday taking the total to 10,612.

Of the English deaths, patients were aged between 26 and 100, and of these 42 aged between 30 and 98 had no known underlying health condition.  

The UK is likely to be the worst affected country in Europe, Wellcome Trust Director Sir Jeremy Farrar told the BBC on Sunday. Sir Jeremy is a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

Prof Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England medical director, presented the latest COVID-19 hospital admission data: "We're beginning to see London stabilising, dipping, rising, dipping again, so probably a more stable pattern for London. But on the other hand," she said, "we do see other regions now beginning to increase, particularly the Northwest, and the Yorkshire area as well, and the Northeast." 

NHS COVID-19 Deaths

The deaths of more nurses were reported.

Sara Trollope, a nurse at Central and North West London (CNWL) NHS Foundation Trust died at Watford General Hospital.

She worked with dementia patients at Hillingdon Hospital. Medical director Dr Paul Hopper said: "Sara had that unbeatable combination of kindness, selflessness and total determination to get things right for patients. She was an example to every one of us."

Julie Omar, 52, was a nurse at Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital. Chief Executive of the health trust Matthew Hopkins said: "It is with great sorrow that I have to share with you the sad news that a much-loved member of our nursing team – Julie Omar – has died."

Nurse Gareth Roberts' death was also confirmed by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. In a statement, it said: "Gareth was well known by everyone and was an extremely popular, fun-filled and well-liked person."

Care home nurse Elsie Sazuze died in the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield.

Leilani Dayrit, 47, was a nurse at St Cross Hospital in Rugby. Her daughter Mary Dayrit described her as "selfless until the very end”.

Mr Hancock was asked if there was an update on the number of NHS staff deaths: "I don't have an update on the figure of 19 NHS staff who've died that I gave yesterday," he said.

"But what I can tell you is that we are looking into each circumstance to understand as much as is possible, how they caught the virus, whether that was at work, outside of work, and the clinical setting that they were working in, and making sure that we learn as much as we possibly can, and therefore, of course, protect our health workers as much as possible." 

In Memoriam: Healthcare Workers Who Have Died of COVID-19.

PPE

Two days after Mr Hancock talked about the "Herculean" efforts to get PPE to the front line, the experience of many doctors and nurses suggests more work is needed.

A Royal College of Surgeons survey of 1978 members found a third do not have access to enough masks, gowns, and other protective clothing.

Vice-president Sue Hill said in a statement: "We have been working with government to ensure surgeons and their teams have the right advice about what level of PPE they need for different surgical procedures, but the overall picture from our survey is that there is still a lot more work to do to get adequate equipment to the front line.  

"In the meantime we have urged our members not to risk their health, and that of their patients carrying out risky procedures."

The Royal College of Nursing issued new guidance to members saying that if they haven't been given the appropriate PPE, and that there's no other way of treating a patient without reducing risk, then they should refuse to work rather than compromising their own safety. 

The Doctors' Association UK (DAUK) announced a crowdfunding partnership to pay for gaps in PPE supplies. DAUK's Dr Jenny Vaughan was quoted as saying: “We absolutely acknowledge that things have improved, but there are still many, many gaps and we can't afford gaps when it comes to people's lives."

Chief Executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said on Sunday: "The Government is publicly quoting ever growing figures of how many millions of pieces of PPE are being delivered to the front line. 

"Frontline staff, and those representing them, are pointing with increasing frustration to multiple instances of PPE not being available when required. 

"The reality is that both are right. 

"And I'm glad to say that that effort is moving in the right direction," he said. "But until everybody gets the PPE that they need. Then, we won't rest."

He was also asked whether the average wait time of two and a half days from staff asking for PPE and delivery was acceptable: "The two and a half days is an average and so it shouldn't be interpreted that people are waiting for two and a half days," he said.

More News in Brief

A new NHS contact tracing app was announced by Mr Hancock. "As we ramp up our ability to test in large numbers, we also need to make sure we have the ability to trace contacts just as effectively," he said. 

NHS England said 4800 former doctors, nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals have now returned to the NHS front line. Another 10,300 returnees will join them after checks have been completed.

The Queen said "Easter isn't cancelled" in her first-ever Easter message. She also said: "We know that coronavirus will not overcome us."

"There is a huge NHS effort to supply PPE to the front line but gaps remain. 

"It would help if those gaps were publicly acknowledged and the reasons for them more clearly set out."

On Sunday, Mr Hancock said: "We're increasing the amount of PPE and I'm glad to say that there are now record amounts in the system." 

He was asked to commit to a date by which all NHS staff have the PPE they need: "The answer is that it's impossible," he said, "because the quest is to get the right PPE to the right people on the front line, at the right time, across many millions of people across the NHS and social care. 

Parliament will get back to work with virtual sittings on 21st April, the BBC reported. It quoted a spokesperson for the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg: "In these unprecedented times, technological solutions have already been implemented for select committee and options are being prepared for the Speaker, the Government and other parties to consider next week."

Another high profile COVID-19 death was announced on Sunday. Tim Brooke-Taylor was 79 and a member of the 70s comedy show the Goodies, and the radio programme I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Stephen Fry tweeted that he was: "Gentle, kind, funny, wise, warm, but piercingly witty when he chose to be."

Adapted from Medscape UK.