PATIENTS and visitors to Royal Blackburn Hospital have been outraged by members of the public taking hand sanitizer from the hospital.

A reader contacted the Lancashire Telegraph to say the dispensers were empty while his mum and dad were in the hospital on Saturday as people had been filling items with gel.

The man, who did not want to be named, said: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting stealing from the NHS.

“They have got so much ahead of them.

“People need to start caring for one another not just themselves now.

“We all need to pull together but I find stealing gel from the hospital is the lowest of the low. We will need them in weeks ahead it’s just pure selfishness.”

Kate Hollern, MP for Blackburn, said: “"It is vitally important at this difficult time, for us all to work together to ensure that the NHS is able to cope with the extra demands being placed upon it.

"We all need to ensure that we maintain cleanliness but sanitiser can be bought in the shops and the only cause of shortages at present is unnecessary panic buying.

"Any sanitiser placed in hospitals is there for the use of those in the hospital. People need to think about the effects of their actions on others as selfish and irresponsible behaviour really could cost lives’.

She added: “I pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of our NHS staff in what are extremely challenging circumstances.”

Tony McDonald, director of Integrated Care and Partnerships, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Sadly, there have been some instances where people have removed small quantities of hand sanitiser for their own use, which is unacceptable.

“Because of the hugely increased use – which is essential – our staff are working really hard to ensure all the dispensers are constantly topped up and this is regularly checked.

“Of course, nobody should take the sanitiser away – it is for use here, to keep our patients, staff and visitors safe.

“We are taking every step possible in our hospitals to protect people and we ask all your readers to help us in that.”

Mr McDonald added :"The advice to frequently wash your hands with soap for two minutes must be taken, observe social distancing and stay two metres apart from other people wherever possible; if you are over 70 or have an ongoing health condition, self-isolate for 12 weeks.

“Like all hospitals, we’ve restricted visiting times to one hour per day; we’ve reduced the numbers of people who can visit; our restaurant seating areas are closed.

“We recognise that these are really difficult times for everyone and we’ve implemented measures to support the health and wellbeing of our staff. We’ve also suspended all parking charges for three months. Readers can find more information on our website

“We would like to say a huge thank you to local people and businesses who have shown their appreciation for our staff and services. We’d also like to pay tribute to all our staff, who are doing a simply amazing job.”