Coronavirus: Kiwi nurses threaten to walk off the job due to shortage of masks, gloves

Kiwi nurses are threatening to walk off the job due to what they say is a dangerous shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Nurses union co-leader Kerri Nuku told Newshub the situation is dire.

"There have been members that have spoken to me and emailed me and said, 'If I go onto this shift without the PPE gear then I will be turning around and walking off'." 

Hospital doctors have similar fears.

Newshub has obtained an email sent between doctors saying scrubs are in short supply with only doctors in surgical theatres allowed to use them. This will apparently be policed. 

Staff are being told to buy their own. 

The shortage could be due to panicked people stealing from the people who need it most. 

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says there has been wholesale theft of scrubs, masks and hand sanitiser.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says there is plenty of gear to go around  - nearly two million aprons and masks, close to three million pairs of gloves and 60,000 sets of eye protection 

"What I can provide is a reassurance that we have PPE right across our system

However, he admits it is not getting to where it needs to be.

"The distribution is designed for when we're in normal circumstances, not COVID-19 circumstances."

It is not just nurses and doctors - pharmacists, ambulance drivers, and essential workers like at supermarkets all need it or want it.

There's a huge division between the Government and frontline. Despite being weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, those fighting it either can't get gear or feel it is being held back from them.

The talk of refusing to work comes from genuine worry, as clearly there has been a breakdown in getting it to them.