GAMEKEEPERS and moorland managers have stepped up to help NHS frontline staff working at local doctors’ surgeries.

Following a plea from local NHS facilities struggling to secure vital protective eyewear, shooting estates in the Yorkshire Dales arranged to provide hundreds of pairs of protective glasses to 16 local surgeries.

There is a desperate shortage of eye protection across the NHS, with many manufacturers and suppliers claiming further stocks will not be available until June.

The Moorland Association is calling on its members and shooting schools across England to take part and roll out the campaign to provide free protective safety eyewear to local NHS facilities battling the Coronavirus.

The efforts accelerated over the weekend following an appeal by the Central Dales Practice which operates two GP surgeries, one at Hawes and the other at Aysgarth.

Both surgeries are located in the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak’s, constituency.

Public Health England guidance concerning the way in which “face to face” interviews between doctor and patient should be conducted included the required usage of protective glasses.

The Central Dales Practice had made enquiries from six separate suppliers to buy the necessary safety glasses, but none were immediately available.

Fortunately, Lynn Irwin, managing partner at the Central Dales Practice, is married to a local grouse keeper and together they contacted the estate to see if they could help.

Following the plea, local estates swiftly made available 255 pairs of protective glasses which have been safely distributed between a total of 16 surgeries in the Dales area.

Mrs Irwin said: “The COVID-19 guidance we have been given as medical practitioners clearly calls for the use of protective eyewear, yet it has been impossible to secure any through regular suppliers.

"A special thanks to Richard Johnson of the Simonstone Estate who ensured that within hours of our plea on Friday we had the glasses in our hands.”

Mrs Irwin’s husband Marcus, a local grouse keeper, added: “NHS staff are putting themselves at risk on the frontline in the battle against the coronavirus, this is the least we can do to support our local doctors and nurses as they stand ready to care for our friends and families.

"We all need to do our bit to get through this, and we are committed to help in any way we can.”

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association added: “Our members are committed to do their bit in the battle against the coronavirus.

"We heard last week that doctors and nurses were short of protective glasses and immediately started efforts to connect estates to local NHS facilities.

"We are prepared to do anything we can to help contribute to the national effort against COVID-19.”

Moorland Association members care for 860,000 acres of UK moorland.