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Fears for medical workers wearing PPE in hot weather

By Richard Guttridge | Wolverhampton | Coronavirus | Published:

Concerns have been raised about NHS workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) becoming unwell in hot weather.

There are fears for NHS staff working in PPE

Bosses at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross and Cannock Chase hospitals, are looking at fitting air conditioning amid fears staff could become too hot while wearing protective gear.

PPE was rolled out to hospital workers during the coronavirus crisis to ensure they were protected while treating patients with the virus. It has now become part of the routine for NHS staff.

But there are now concerns the gear which is designed to protect them could actually be doing them some harm, particularly in warm weather.

More Covid-19 coverage:

Trust chief executive David Loughton raised the issue at a recent board meeting. He said he feared workers could be forced to take time off if the overheating made them unwell.

Minutes of the meeting said: "Prof Loughton said the trust could expect when the weather changed the sickness rate may increase.

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"He said the trust was considering fitting air conditioning where possible, as when staff were working in personal protective equipment (PPE) it could become problematic with really hot weather potentially leading to an increase of sickness absence levels."

The Express & Star revealed this week the coronavirus crisis has resulted in dozens of people waiting more than a year for treatment at a hospital.

Latest figures show 166 people have been waiting more than 52 weeks for treatment at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross Hospital, in a clear indication the pandemic is playing havoc with NHS waiting times.

In March no patients were waiting more than a year, the national benchmark that no NHS trust should breach in normal times. All non-urgent surgery was suspended at the height of the pandemic to allow hospitals to focus on Covid-19 patients, meaning hospitals will have to work through the backlog.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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