Three London Ambulance workers die of coronavirus as 550 more off work – The Sun


THREE London Ambulance Service (LAS) workers have died of coronavirus in the last three weeks.

Another 550 LAS staff out of 6,000 are off work through illness or are self-isolating during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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LAS chief executive Garrett Emmerson said staff were "devastated" at the deaths of their three colleagues, who had not had direct contact with Covid-19 patients.

Gordon Ballard, an LAS manager in Bow, East London, died from the virus a fortnight ago after 42 years with the ambulance service.

Melonie Mitchell, who advised patients on the 111 phone service, died last week.

Paramedic Ian Reynolds, from New Addington ambulance station in South London died yesterday.

Mr Reynolds hadn't been working on the frontline, but had been providing logistical support to crews since joining the ambulance service 32 weeks ago.

'ABSOLUTELY HEARTBREAKING'

The three deaths come as the number of coronavirus deaths in the UK topped 17,000, with more than 100 NHS and care workers dying with the disease.

Speaking the day after Mr Reynolds's death Mr Emmerson told LBC Radio's Nick Ferrari: "This is obviously heartbreaking news. We have had very little time to come to terms with it.

"Up until yesterday afternoon we were all hoping for a better outcome.

"Sadly, this is actually the third member of staff we have lost in recent weeks."

He added: "The fact that none of these colleagues were actually working in direct contact with patients, sadly, just illustrates the indiscriminate and lethal nature of this virus.

"We are all just devastated. We're losing people that we have known and loved and worked with for a number of years."

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At least 17,337 patients have now died in hospitals across the UK after another 828 deaths were announced yesterday.

Coronavirus cases in the UK increased to more than 129,000 after 4,301 more people tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, an RAF plane sent to pick up an 84-tonne consignment of personal protective equipment (PPE) from Turkey has arrived back in the UK – but only around half of the vital supplies may have been onboard.

The RAF aircraft that landed this morning can only carry around 40 tonnes of cargo, about half the total of  the Turkey consignment.

It was also revealed that NHS workers need to be re-tested for coronavirus after a minister admitted the Government's early tests were inaccurate.

Care Minister Helen Whateley today refused to answer if this meant infected medics had been cleared to work on the frontline.

PPE SUPPLY

The LAS has been the first trust in the country to get access to NHS staff coronavirus tests.

Mr Emmerson said he was "confident" LAS crews had enough PPE stock, but they were dependent on the national supply chain.

There had also been a drop in the number of patients crews were starting to see, with social distancing appearing to work, the ambulance boss said.

But he was unable to confirm if patients brought by ambulance to London's Nightingale Hospital had been turned away due to a lack of nurses.

He said: "My team are involved in critical transfers to take patients away, but it certainly wouldn't be the case that people have been turned away at the door.

"We transport all the patients that we are asked to transport to The Nightingale, but obviously there is capacity across the acute system to deal with patients in existing intensive care units."

Paying tribute to ambulance staff, Mr Emmerson said: “There are people who are going above and beyond in such trying circumstances."


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