Responding to the Government’s PPE Strategy1, which sets out plans for supplying future PPE in England, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “With a second wave upon us, health and care workers must be properly protected this time. There must be no repeat of the terrible examples of insufficient quantities of PPE, which put doctors at risk and under pressure to see patients without feeling adequately protected at the start of the pandemic.
“More non-Covid care is now being provided, and as the Government has rightly recognised, this means there is still a huge demand for PPE. Given the NHS is likely to be hit by a triple whammy of rising Covid cases, winter pressures, and the additional work involved in dealing with the backlog of care, however, we need urgent assurance that this stockpile of PPE will be sufficient.
“Doctors will not forget the assurances they were given of the previous stockpile being sufficient at the onset of the pandemic, which resulted in a very different reality of acute shortages. While the Strategy talks of modelling, there needs to be transparency and detail of scenarios of projected demand both in the NHS and social care to show that there will be adequate quantities of PPE available on the ground for health and care workers. We also need information about how this will work with the logistics of delivery of PPE that had caused difficulties in the first wave.
“Although the Strategy speaks of a four month stockpile, the BMA also believes that a longer duration will be necessary given the escalating spread of the infection and that plans should be put in place for continued supplies.
“PPE must also meet the diverse needs of staff, including deaf healthcare workers and those who have religious dress practices. It’s encouraging to see the Government listening to the practical difficulties faced by some BAME healthcare workers and women in the health service.
“We are pleased to see that the BMA’s calls for more domestic manufacturing of PPE has been taken onboard as well, with UK based supply anticipated to meet 70% of forecasted demand in December for PPE. While this will improve availability of protective equipment, it’s worth noting that this does not currently include gloves – a vital piece of PPE, which needs to be just as easily accessible as other items.
“Healthcare staff cannot work, cannot care for patients, without proper protection, which is why the Government must build on this Strategy with clear, tangible evidence to assure all health and social care workers that they will get the high-quality PPE they need and deserve, when and where it’s needed.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union 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.
- Read the full strategy.