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

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us