DESPERATE nurses in Brighton say they have had to fashion protective equipment from spare parts and elastic bands.

They say they have been left short of essential kit as they fight coronavirus on the front line at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals.

The hospital trust has been accused of breaching Public Health England guidelines by reserving the equipment and preventing even those treating Covid-19 patients from getting hold of it.

Without proper protection, nurses say they have been forced to make protective visors from sheets of laminate held together with rubber bands.

The nurses’ trade union accused hospital chiefs of “sacrificing safety to keep the service running”.

This comes amid intense criticism of the Government for failing to supply doctors, nurses and carers with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Last month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock promised that enough kit was on its way. He said: “We’ve got all this in storage in case there’s a pandemic like this, and there are literally lorries on the road right now.”

But scores of NHS staff have come forward to say that protective gear has either not arrived or not come soon enough.

Last week, a Brighton nurse in isolation with symptoms of coronavirus told The Argus she believes she contracted Covid-19 because stocks of PPE arrived too late.

She accused the Government of “putting lives at risk”.

But the GMB, the union for NHS workers, laid the blame at the hospital trust’s door.

It accused the trust’s board of downgrading the level of PPE staff are required to wear, and limiting its availability in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.

It said hospital workers had been put at risk by inaccurate advice on protective equipment, and accused the trust and senior management of issuing daily guidance that goes against the recommendations of Public Health England and the World Health Organisation.

The GMB’s Gary Palmer said: “Is this how we expect those risking their lives in the face of a pandemic to be treated – front line nursing staff being forced to make their own PPE to protect themselves?

“We want to see NHS employers taking their responsibility seriously. So far, it’s clear that Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust has failed to do so.

“The crucial guidance from Public Health England is clear. All NHS staff should be empowered to choose the PPE they need protect themselves at work, and we will be on the case to ensure that the hospital is implementing this.

“No Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals staff or NHS frontline health workers should be put in a position where they feel their employer is prepared to sacrifice their own safety to keep the service running.”

The hospital trust has been contacted for comment.