'FOR the first time ever, I'm scared to go to work.'

Frontline NHS staff at Musgrove Park Hospital dealing with the coronavirus outbreak are fearful a lack of protective equipment and clear guidelines is putting them, their families and patients in danger, it has emerged.

Workers at the Taunton hospital, which serves a wide area across the Deane and beyond, are battling to help those suffering with Covid-19, or coronavirus symptoms as the number of cases grows.

One NHS worker, who wished to remain anonymous, told your County Gazette: "We are working on a skeleton staff as so many people are self isolating.

"There are no masks on the wards and we're worried theatre teams will run out too.

"We haven't been told to wear masks and we are touching so many patients."

Somerset NHS said it was 'concerned' to hear of the staff member's distress and urged the worker to contact them for support.

They did not comment on the claims over a lack of protective equipment or guidelines on when it should be used.

But the worker said staff appreciate it is not the hospital's fault, saying bosses would 'give them out if they could', but that they feel the Government simply isn't prepared for what's happening.

"For the first time ever, I'm scared to go to work," the worker, who asked to remain anonymous, added.

A spokesperson from the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We are very concerned that one of our colleagues feels worried about going to work and we would urge them to speak to us about their concerns.

"We know that people are feeling anxious and we want to reassure them that we are here to listen and we have a range of practical and wellbeing support available to them during this time.”

The claims come as Love Musgrove, the hospital's charitable arm, launched an appeal to raise money for those offering care through the crisis.

The Covid-19 Appeal is, according to organisers, 'the best way to say thank you'.

"In light of their hard work, and the challenge facing the community, we are encouraging everyone to rally behind Musgrove and say thank you to staff during this extremely difficult time," said an appeal spokesperson.

"Staff are working incredibly hard to keep us safe; their dedication, commitment and passion to continue to deliver exceptional care during this unprecedented period is truly inspirational and we are extremely proud of them."

How to donate to the Love Musgrove Covid-19 appeal:

  • Visit www.lovemusgrove.org.uk/covid19
  • Test MUSGROVE followed by your donation amount (between £1 and £20) to 70085
  • Send a cheque, payable to 'Love Musgrove Covid-19' to Fundraising Office, Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 5DA

On Thursday, Health Minister Edward Argar insisted personal protective equipment (PPE) deliveries are being increased, and that millions of masks and gloves had already been delivered across the country.

"We entirely understand how important it is that you (frontline staff) get the kit that you need and feel safe and are safe in doing this amazing work that you are doing," he told BBC Breakfast.

Mr Argar said the Government was "ramping up" deliveries of PPE, and had in the last few days delivered 24 million pairs of protective gloves, along with 13 million protective face masks.

On ventilators, he said an additional 8,000 were being ordered and manufactured - which should be available in the next week or two.

And for thousands of scared NHS workers, they cannot come soon enough.