Uttlesford schools join forces to provide PPE to NHS staff

PUBLISHED: 14:16 07 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:16 07 April 2020

Saffron Walden County High School. Picture: Saffron Photo.

Saffron Walden County High School. Picture: Saffron Photo.

SaffronPhoto 2016

Uttlesford schools have responded to an urgent request to help doctors and nurses fighting Covid-19 who are short of personal protection equipment (PPE).

Janina collecting up PPE from SWCHS to donate to the NHS. Photo: Caroline Derbyshire/Twitter.Janina collecting up PPE from SWCHS to donate to the NHS. Photo: Caroline Derbyshire/Twitter.

Thousands of donations were given to NHS services across the district following an urgent call for PPE by UK doctors and nurses on the frontline against the COVID-19 pandemic.

BMAT, a multi-academy trust which has schools across Essex including Forest Hall School and Magna Carta Primary Academy in Stansted, donated more than 6,000 pieces of PPE - from gloves, hazmat suits, and safety goggles to visors, plastic aprons and shoe covers. To do so, the trust stripped all its schools of stocks normally dedicated to science, food techology and design and technology classes.

Lucia Glynn, BMAT head of operations, said: “We received a request from Essex County Council asking if we had any PPE we could donate.

“We felt it was our duty to get as much PPE to those working on the frontline as we could, so we have taken every last item from our 11 schools.”

In Saffron Walden, Saffron Walden County High school (SWCHS) helped both the Thaxted and Gold Street surgeries with PPE.

One of the doctors at Gold Street surgery put out a desperate call for PPE which was shared by Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) on its Facebook page.

An R4U spokesman said the post reached 8,000 people and that the party ‘directly helped connecting the practice with SWCHS’.

In the post, Dr Richard Boyce, who is a GP at Gold Street Surgery, said he was looking to source PPE “on behalf of the surgeries in North Uttlesford”.

He said: “You may be aware of the shortages that exist within the NHS, and we need to bolster our stocks to be prepared for the coming weeks.

“We have been promised further supplies from the government, but it would be good to have the security of other sources to draw upon to ensure staff and patients attending the surgeries are safe.”

He specifically asked for stocks the surgery is ‘likely’ to be ‘short of’. These include FFP3 masks, fluid resistant surgical masks and face masks, visors and goggles.

Dr Boyce also mentioned a need for protective gowns with long sleeves, and described them as “similar to those worn by forensic investigators at the scene of a crime”.

He said he and his NHS colleagues would be “very grateful” for supplies from “individuals or a reliable local supplier to call upon if needed”, and added a ‘thank you’ message from local medical practices:

“Thank you on behalf of all the GP surgeries locally for the overwhelming support we have received thus far.”

Caroline Derbyshire, executive headteacher at SWCHS, who received the requests together with Polly Lankester, associate headteacher, both said they ‘wish they had more’ PPE to donate.

According to Polly Lankester, the SWCHS representatives divided what they had in their science and technology departments between the two GP practices, namely boxes of latex gloves, pairs of goggles and face shields.

Ms Derbyshire said: “We would have liked to have given more but we did not have much to give”.

The headteacher tweeted a photo of Janina Jones, the school’s senior science technician, collecting PPE from SWCHS to donate to the NHS, with the caption: “The empty science corridor is a strange sight, isn’t it?!”

“We simply collected what we could find in Science and Technology and our science technician, Janina Jones, dropped them off,” Ms Derbyshire added later.

“We are proud to have made a small contribution to keeping key workers and especially the NHS up and running.”

The school has been open to around 25 children of key workers or other children in need of help since March 20, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced school closures across the country to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

SWCHS has set up a virtual school for all the students who have been working from home.

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