Leaked photo shows protective gowns being recycled at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital

Health bosses in Sheffield have insisted the safety of staff is their ‘top priority’ after a nurse accused them of putting their lives at risk by reusing protective gowns.

Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 9:27 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 3:04 pm

A nurse at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital shared photos with The Star showing the vital PPE being collected in laundry baskets after being used.

However, hospital managers say they currently have enough stocks of new gowns and staff are only being asked to recycle them to test if they can be reused.

The nurse, who didn’t want to be named in this story, said: “I think it's a disgrace. Where is the evidence that I will be protected if I use a recycled gown?

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

“We have been ordered to put them apart for cleaning. Why I should risk my life every time I go to work?

“I am scared now. We don't need this. I just want someone to show me the evidence that they are as good as the new ones.”

However, Kirsten Major, the chief executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said staff would never be asked to deliver care without the appropriate protection.

“We have been working 24/7 to monitor what is happening nationally and internationally so that we could try to be ahead of the curve if shortages looked like they may occur,” she said.

Protective gowns are allegedly being reused at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.
Protective gowns are allegedly being reused at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.

“We have stocks of gowns at the moment and are also due to have part of the national delivery due this week but we are not complacent and have been working with local, national and international companies to look at manufacturing gowns in materials which can be decontaminated and reused safely.

“Our laundry specialists, virologists, infectious disease experts and infection control teams have also all been working together to test if different gowns could be used, or items could be safely decontaminated and re-used.

“This is why we have been asking staff to put used gowns in special laundry bags so that we can decontaminate them, test the effectiveness, and if they provide the appropriate protection we will then have even more gowns available to use.”