Doctors have warned they could stop treating coronavirus patients to protect their own lives as equipment shortages become critical.
Hospitals are on the brink of running out of some life-saving supplies today after a vital delivery of 400,000 protective gowns from Turkey was delayed.
Medical bodies say the shortages mean doctors could be forced into a 'difficult decision' between exposing themselves to the virus or 'letting a patient die on their watch'.
It led to a chorus of criticism that those fighting in the frontline against the virus are being betrayed as the Government fails to 'get a grip' on the escalating crisis.
The death toll of frontline NHS and care home staff, from heart surgeons and nurses to porters and volunteers, has now reached at least 80. Pictured (left to right): Habib Zaidi, 76, GP from Essex; Adil El Tayar, 63, Hereford doctor; Pooja Sharma, 33, Sussex pharmacist; Amged El-Hawrani ENT expert, Burton
Pictured (left to right): Thomas Harvey, 57, London nurse; Alfa Saadu, 68, Essex doctor; Mohamed Shousha 79, London medic; Lynsay Coventry, 54, Essex midwife
Pictured (left to right): Aimee O’Rourke, 39, Kent nurse; Liz Glanister, 68, Liverpool nurse; Areema Nasreen, 36, Walsall nurse; Consultant Anton Sebastianpillai
Pictured (left to right): John Alagos, 23, Watford nurse; Glen Corbin, 59, from London; Rebecca Mack, 29, nurse, Morpeth; Janice Graham, 58, nurse, Scotland
Pictured (left to right): Rahima Sidhanee, 68, London nurse; Josiane Ekoli, 55, Harrogate nurse; Cheryl Williams, ward housekeeper; Ade Raymond, London nurse
Pictured (left to right): Dr Peter Tun, 62, specialist, Reading; Mary Agyapong, pregnant nurse; Dean McKee, 28, carer, London; Amanda Scott, 54, carer, Birmingham
The warnings came as:
Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted on Friday that medical gowns could run out within days, and official new guidance was issued telling staff to consider reusing some personal protective equipment.
NHS chiefs say they had pinned their hopes on the delivery of 84 tons of equipment from Turkey to 'avert an absolute crisis over the weekend'.
The RAF flight carrying the supplies was due to land in Britain yesterday morning – but it was delayed for at least 24 hours, meaning some hospitals could run out altogether today.
Pictured (left to right): Maureen Ellington, Bristol nurse; Gladys Nyemba, Nottingham nurse; Andy Treble, 57, Wrexham hospital; Lourdes Campbell, 54, Bolton NHS
Pictured (left to right): Amrik Bamotra, 63, Ilford hospital; Brian Darlington, 63, Crewe porter; Julianne Cadby, 49, NHS manager; Linnette Cruz, 51, dental nurse
Pictured (left to right): London GP Syed Zishan Haider, 79; Jitendra Rathod, 58, surgeon, Cardiff; Alice Kit Tak Ong, 70, London nurse; Leilani Dayrit, 47, Rugby nurse
Pictured (left to right): Barbara Moore, 54, Liverpool; Edmond Adedeji, 62, locum, Wiltshire; Fayez Ayache, 76, GP in Ipswich; Carol Jamabo, 56, carer in Bury
Pictured (left to right): Carer Catherine Sweeney, 64; Donald Suelto, London nurse; Urologist Abdul Chowdhury, 53; Julie Omar, 52, nurse in Redditch
Pictured (left to right): Elsie Sazuze, 44, carer, Cannock; Gareth Roberts, 63, Cardiff nurse; Sara Trollope, 51, London matron; Amor Gatinao, 50, London nurse
Pictured (left to right): Donna Campbell, 54, from Cardiff; Elbert Rico, 52, porter in Oxford; Oscar King Jr, 45, porter in Oxford; Elvira Bucu, 50, care worker
Pictured (left to right): Nurse Melujean Ballesteros, 60; Technician Kevin Smith, Doncaster; Leilani Medel, 41, nurse in Cardiff; Amarante Dias, 54, nurse in Somerset
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health service managers, said: 'This is very serious and makes a difficult situation worse. 'It would have been better had the Government not made the announcement in the first place. It now looks more likely that supplies of gowns could run out in some places.'
Organisations representing intensive care doctors said their members are facing 'increasingly difficult decisions'. They pledged to support any doctors who feel they have to down their tools due to inadequate PPE.
The British Medical Association said the delay was 'devastating' and that shortages could force doctors to consider 'withdrawing from the frontline'.
Chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'Given the Health Secretary's warning of the possibility of full-sleeved gowns running out altogether in some hospitals this weekend, doctors were banking on the Government's announcement of imminent extra supplies of PPE from overseas.
Pictured (left to right): Gladys Mujajati, 46, Derby nurse; Care assistant Stephen Agyapong; Patricia Crowhurst, 54, Teesside care; Jane Murphy, 73, Edinburgh A&E
Pictured (left to right): Barbara Sage, 68, Bromley, London; Dr Krishan Arora, 57, London; Sonya Kaygan, 26, care worker; Jenelyn Carter, 41, Swansea nurse
Pictured (left to right): Michael Allieu, London nurse; Radiographer Simon Guest; Wilma Banaag, 63, Watford hospital; Gilbert Barnedo, 48, London nurse
Pictured (left to right): Rajesh Kalraiya, 69, consultant, Romford; Steven Pearson, 51, nurse, Cumbria; Linda Clarke, 66, Wigan midwife; Emily Perugia, 29, carer, London
Pictured (left to right): Barry England, 999 paramedic; Gordon Ballard, manager, London; Mandy Siddorn, 61, technician, Chester; Unnamed at family’s request
Pictured (left to right): Carer Ruben Junior Munoz, Surrey; Andy Stamp, 65, IT admin, Liverpool; Margaret Tapley, 84, NHS nurse; Charles Tanor, 39, carer, West Mids
'Healthcare workers desperately need proper and effective protection now – by whatever means possible. This really is a matter of life and death. Doctors and healthcare staff... are left fearful for their own health and safety – this is shameful.'
He added: 'They are treating their own colleagues in intensive care on ventilators and tragically see some of them not survive.'
Professor Neil Mortensen, president elect of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: 'Like all doctors, surgeons are committed to saving lives. If the gowns run out they will be left between a rock and a very hard place.
they put themselves, their colleagues and their families in the firing
line, or do they take the risk of a patient dying on their watch for
want of an operation?'
God, please protect me from my friends. I can handle my enemies.