Two NHS workers were receiving critical care this weekend after contracting coronavirus from infected patients.
The ENT medics are on ventilators and “most likely” acquired the highly contagious respiratory infection from people who did not show any symptoms in the course of their daily clinical work.
The cases have been reported as a group of almost 4,000 NHS workers launched a desperate plea to Boris Johnson to ensure they have adequate protective equipment to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
In an open letter to The Sunday Times, the medics have called on the Prime Minister to “protect the lives of the life-savers” and resolve the “unacceptable” shortage of protective equipment.
The group said many medical workers are “putting their lives on the line every day” by treating coronavirus patients without appropriate protection, and they called on Mr Johnson to ensure an adequate supply of masks, safety glasses, gloves, aprons and protective suits.
Front-line doctors “do not feel safe at work”
The letter, signed by 3,963 front-line NHS staff, reads: “Front-line doctors have been telling us for weeks that they do not feel safe at work.
“Intensive care doctors and anaesthetists have told us they have been carrying out the highest-risk procedure, putting a patient on a ventilator, with masks that expired in 2015.”
The letter adds that paediatricians have warned their stocks of protective glasses would run out in 48 hours, including in special-care baby units.
One acute care worker reported one NHS trust had run out of its stock of masks last weekend, the letter said.
“GPs have told us they feel abandoned; many have been left without any protection for weeks and do not even have simple masks to protect them if a patient comes in with symptoms of Covid-19,” it continued.
The group also said ambulance workers had been arriving for shifts to find no hand sanitiser, masks or wipes were available.
If urgent action is not taken, the doctors said, the public will be put at further risk and medical staff could lose their lives.