NHS PORTERS AT RISK – transporting the dead in sheets as body bags run out!

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Banner of the St Helier Hospital campaign on a demonstration against Tory cuts

NHS PORTERS at Epsom and St Helier Trust, not only have very ‘flimsy’ Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) but they are being forced to transport infected dead patients in sheets, as they have run out of body bags as the death toll mounts!

The porters – who have been waiting months to get an ‘insulting’ 5p an hour pay rise from the trust – are left with just a thin plastic apron, disposable gloves and a flimsy mask as they rush around the hospital doing the difficult and highly distressing work of moving ever increasing numbers of deceased patients.

The scenes they are witnessing on a daily basis leave them ‘distressed and anxious’ and they are increasingly concerned about contracting the virus themselves.

They are also worried that safety standards are slipping in the trust as the death toll mounts.

Helen O’Connor, GMB Organiser, said: ‘We are extremely concerned about the psychological and physical wellbeing of our hospital members who are traumatised and struggling to cope with the impact of this pandemic.

‘They are on the frontline doing the type of work that would distress anyone and increasingly dealing with death.

‘They know that operating without body bags, and with flimsy PPE puts them and their families at increased risk of contracting this deadly virus.

‘We call on Epsom and St Helier trust to take urgent measures to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of these key workers during this crisis.’

Meanwhile, an ambulance driver with coronavirus symptoms was refused a test because it was ‘too expensive’ the GMB union reported yesterday.

The GMB member had a sore throat and no sense of taste and smell, but now feels under pressure to stay at work, the union said yesterday.

The driver is employed by outsourced company HATs, who hold the non-emergency patient transfer contract for the trust concerned.

He reported his manager had said: ‘Tests are expensive’ and ‘everyone is going to get it anyway’.

O’Connor said: ‘It is of great concern to GMB that this worker has not been immediately tested given he has COVID-19-type symptoms.

‘This means he will struggle to get permission to self-isolate and protect others from harm.

‘Once again, serious questions must be asked about the failure of outsourced companies like HATs in their duty of care to workers, patients and the public.’