Commenting on Amnesty International’s report ‘Exposed, Silenced, Attacked: Failures to protect health and essential workers during the pandemic’, which found the UK had the second-highest number of health and social care workers from Covid-19 in the world, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“This report lays bare the devastating impact that Covid-19 has had on health and social care staff in the UK and around the world – with thousands worldwide tragically losing their lives.
“It’s disturbing that Amnesty’s analysis puts the total number of health and social care deaths in the UK so high – second only to Russia, which has more than double our population.
“The report also highlights the disproportionate number of health workers from black and ethnic minority communities – an issue the BMA continues to campaign and demand action on, along with the global issues with the supply of PPE.
“This is something that has been felt by doctors, their NHS colleagues and social care staff in the UK throughout the pandemic, with widespread reports of shortages and some coming perilously close to running out entirely. Meanwhile, staff were dismayed to find guidance on PPE in England did not initially adhere to World Health Organisation guidelines.
“The PPE crisis was felt most acutely during the peak of the virus, with more than half of doctors working in high-risk environments telling a BMA survey in early April that there were shortages or no supply at all of face masks, and two-thirds saying the same about eye protection. Alarmingly, 55% told the same survey they felt pressurised to work in a high-risk area despite not having adequate PPE. BAME doctors are worryingly almost three times’ more likely to often feel pressured into seeing patients without proper protection than their white colleagues.
“While supplies have improved, our latest survey revealed that more than one in five doctors still do not have access to adequate stocks of long-sleeved gowns1.
“With a huge backlog of non-Covid care to address and a possible second wave still very much a threat, we need guarantees that mistakes of the past will not be repeated and that supplies will be guaranteed – both in terms of quantity and quality.
“No healthcare worker should be expected to risk their life simply by going to work.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
- Of more than 5,000 doctors surveyed between 7 and 9 July 2020, 22% said they had experienced shortages (9%) or no supply at all (13%) of long-sleeved disposable gowns in the last week.