A nurse at Arrowe Park Hospital has described scenes of ‘panic’ as many staff members found out from the news that Brits returning from coronavirus stricken Wuhan would be quarantined there.
On Thursday night, government officials said an evacuation flight from China was due to land at RAF Brize Norton on Friday, reports the Echo.
The passengers will then be transferred to Arrowe Park under police escort, where they will be quarantined in a staff accommodation block.
And a nurse at the hospital said the news had not down well.
“Most heard it one the news first which is terrible, panic is the word I would use,” the nurse said.
“At least warn your staff before the news, also the Wirral population are worried also.
“No-one’s happy about it and they say it’s airborne, so how are they getting from the airport to the accommodation?”
The nurse claimed they hadn’t been fitted for masks and added: “Shouldn’t the staff and people of Wirral have a say about this?
“Putting our lives and our family’s lives at risk”.
It’s believed that staff in the accommodation were given 12 hours’ notice to move out.
They were told at 4pm on Thursday to gather their belongings and leave the accommodation.
Alternative accommodation will be offered.
Management are believed to have held a briefing with staff at lunchtime today.
Derek Jones from Unite, which has 1,000 members at the Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The unions were briefed on the situation by the NHS management today as the welfare of our members working at the hospital is a prime concern.
“It should be remembered that those who are being quarantined are British nationals who left Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak in China, and are entitled to the excellent care that the health service can provide.
“Staff at the hospital will not be asked to treat those being quarantined as this is being dealt with centrally by the Department of Health and Social Care.
“Should any of those at Arrowe Park develop symptoms associated with the virus they will be transferred to the world-renowned Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine which is highly specialised to care for such cases.
“The staff, who were asked to leave the residential blocks at short notice to accommodate those flying in from China, are being put up in hotels and apartments at NHS England’s expense.
“Unite is satisfied that this emergency is being dealt with in a professional manner, but we will be monitoring how the situation develops in the coming days as the welfare of NHS staff remains a key concern.”
The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed two patients in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus and are being treated at the Newcastle Royal Victoria infectious disease unit.
Government officials raised the risk level from low to moderate at the World Health Organisation declared an international public health emergency.
The passengers who are taken to Arrowe Park by bus will be quarantined for 14 days with access to the internet.
Anyone with “suspicious” symptoms will be taken to the Royal Liverpool Hospital, which has an infectious diseases unit.
Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Arrowe Park, directed all inquiries to the Department of Health and Social Care, which said it was a matter for the hospital.
A spokeswoman for Merseyside Police denied claims its officers had been called to the hospital on Thursday night as a result of patients allegedly panicking and attempting to discharge themselves.
“No police officers were sent to deal with any incident at Arrowe Park Hospital,” a spokeswoman told the M.E.N.
The Department of Health and Social Care’s spokesman said: “Obviously a lot of people are going to be housed in a unit at Arrowe Park, but it is not part of the hospital.
“There is nothing more we can say. This is the first call I have in relation to Arrowe Park last night.”