The ‘heartbreaking’ story of an NHS doctor’s death puts the Conservative government to shame

UK government coronavirus logo, reading 'Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives'
Support us and go ad-free

A doctor who warned Boris Johnson that NHS staff needed vital personal protective equipment (PPE) has died. Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, who wrote to the PM on 18 March, had been diagnosed with coronavirus (Covid-19) and spent 15 days in hospital.

Coventry MP Zarah Sultana described his death as “heartbreaking”. It’s certainly not, however, the only agonising development to happen in the NHS recently. And the Conservative government should be ashamed of itself.

A “human right”

In his message to Johnson, Chowdhury urged the PM to “urgently” ensure that “each and every NHS worker in the UK” had PPE as they “are in direct contact with patients”. The urologist argued that healthcare workers have a “human right like others to live in this world disease-free with our family and children”. He was only 53 years old.

As many pointed out on Twitter, his death is a disgraceful injustice:

Other workers who have tried to raise alarm bells over the lack of PPE have also since been diagnosed with coronavirus. Three nurses who posted a photo of themselves in makeshift PPE – which they’d constructed out of clinical waste bags – have tested positive for it:

Tip of the iceberg

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) recently submitted a letter to the Commons Health Committee, which is chaired by Jeremy Hunt. In the letter, the RCN’s chief executive Donna Kinnair wrote:

Our safety and ability to care for patients is being fundamentally compromised by the lack of adequate and correct supplies of vital personal protective equipment[PPE] and the slow and small-scale roll out of Covid-19 testing.

Our members are facing impossible decisions between their own or their family’s health and their sense of duty. The distribution and adequacy of PPE has led nursing staff to share equipment, buy their own supplies or to reuse single-use PPE.

YouGov addressed the NHS’s lack of PPE in its latest poll:

It carried out the poll between 2 and 7 April. Only 14% of respondents said they had “the correct PPE in good supply”. Meanwhile, 27% of NHS workers said “they do not have access to the correct PPE”, i.e. the sort that would protect them from coronavirus. Add to this the fact that 37% of the workers polled say they treat patients with and without coronavirus symptoms and it’s a recipe for disaster.

A grotesque government ‘wrong’

The government regularly screams about the ‘millions of pieces’ of PPE it’s provided to NHS workers:

But with staff continuing to report that they are left without adequate protection, it’s clearly not enough. By not stepping up to the plate and making sure NHS staff have what they need, the government is endangering the lives of NHS workers and the patients they treat. In turn, anyone who is in contact with those patients is also at risk, and on and on it goes. So the lack of PPE is a threat to the vast majority of people, ultimately.

That’s betrayal on a shocking scale.

Featured image via NHS/YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us