Coronavirus patients at risk of staying on ventilators ‘longer’ as medicines running short

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Coronavirus patients are at risk of remaining attached to ventilators for longer than necessary unless the British Government makes sure the drug supply does not run out. British Medical Association (BMA) anesthesiologist Tom Dolphin warned medicines used to ease COVID-19 sufferers machines are “running short” as he urged for greater clarity on plans to ensure access to supplies remains steady. Speaking to the Today programme, Dr Dolphin said: “The drugs that we’re seeing running short in various hospitals and various parts of the country is becoming a national problem.

“The drugs that are running short are mostly the ones we’re using in intensive care.

“Obviously, there are many more intensive care patients than usual and the drugs we’d use to keep people asleep, to keep people relaxed and to help with their breathing, those are the ones that are running short.

“There are alternatives but they’re the old drugs we’ve moved away from using because they’re not as good.”

Dr Dolphin warned the use of alternative drugs could result in a backlog leaving coronavirus patients in need of a ventilator without the machinery they require to help them breathe.

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Coronavirus patients may face a drug shortage unless the Government intervenes, Dr Dolphin claimed (Image: BBC)

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He continued: “They can result in patients staying for longer on ventilators, taking longer to wake up and, of course, that’s no good for the patient who needs to be off the ventilator as soon as they can and it’s no good for other patients waiting to use that ventilator.

“Those alternatives are not as good, the Government needs to get on top of the drug supply as well.”

The BMA member also renewed calls to the Government to distribute the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) required to care for COVID-19 patients as he insisted NHS staff is still reporting gear is not reaching them.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted last week the PPE needed is available as he unveiled a new series of guidelines aimed at avoiding the wastage of protective gear.

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Speaking at Friday’s daily briefing from Downing Street, Mr Hancock said: “Last week, following extensive consultation with the medical royal colleges, all four UK Governments have published updated guidance for what PPE to use in what circumstances.

“The PPE guidance included advice that many items of PPE can be used for a whole session, not be changed after treating every individual patient.

“Everyone is still protected but there’s still enough PPE to go round.”

The Health Secretary also confirmed NHS staff and social carers will be able to access COVID-19 tests from this week.

As the UK enters its third week in lockdown, the British Government is now expected to extend the measures for a further three weeks.

A review of the lockdown policy was due to take place last week but Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab insisted a decision will be confirmed as soon as there is hard data available showing the impact staying at home has had on reducing coronavirus cases.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned home on Sunday after spending a week in hospital because of his COVID-19 symptoms worsening.

Mr Johnson spent three days in intensive care and later thanked all his doctors and nurses for their hard work and sacrifice through the pandemic.

The Prime Minister has been recuperating at Chequers alongside his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, who is currently pregnant with their first child.


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