'Why should I put my life at risk to do my job?' - Sheffield nurse on frontline of battle against coronavirus criticises national lack of protection
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Joan Pons Laplana, who in 2018 was named British nurse of the year, is a digital manager at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals but has returned to frontline duties to help in the effort against COVID-19.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, he said: “Why should I put my life at risk to do my job? It’s a health and safety issue.
“For me it’s unbelievable that the Government thinks it’s OK for me to do my duty while I’m putting my life at risk.
“It’s not OK. Before a nurse, I’m also a human being and I deserve the full protection from my government.”
Mr Laplana, who said he had had no issues with PPE where he works, was speaking after the Royal College of Nursing told members they can refuse to treat COVID-19 patients as a ‘last resort’ if they are not given adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
The Government has defended its record on PPE, with health secretary Matt Hancock insisting on Friday that there was a ‘herculean effort’ to ‘get the right kit to our frontline heroes’.
But Mr Hancock angered NHS workers by suggesting that some may be using more PPE than is needed.
Mr Laplana said in an interview with NewEuropeans.net that the coronavirus infection rate among health care workers was ‘around 15 to 20 per cent’, which he said meant ‘the protection is not good enough’.
He also told how he had 'seen a lot of my colleagues go on breaks in tears and it is hard because you have to pull yourself together to go back in’.
“When I go home I basically strip myself down and stay half an hour in the shower because I feel dirty and my biggest fear is that I will pass the coronavirus on to my family,” he added.