Responding to a new report from the Public Accounts Committee1, which calls for a detailed plan around personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Government within the next two months, ahead of a potential second wave of Covid-19, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“We may be past the first peak of this virus, but we should be under no illusion that the demand for PPE is over – especially as the NHS begins to manage the huge backlog of demand caused by the pandemic, all under tighter infection control measures.
“And with the threat of a second wave still very much a possibility, doctors and their colleagues need cast-iron guarantees from Government that the failures of the past months will not be repeated, that there will be enough of the right PPE and that it will be properly tested, quality-controlled and safe to use.
“Crucially, we need to see the Government’s numerical modelling on future demand for PPE – including for an anticipated second peak – and how this stacks up against present supplies and orders placed. Announcements containing arbitrary figures referring to billions of units mean nothing without this.
“We have tragically lost too many health and social care staff to Covid-19. The least we owe to those continuing to give their all caring for patients in these unprecedented times is that they will be given the best protection possible.
“The appalling management of the PPE supply will be remembered by health and social care workers as one of the defining features of the pandemic and the Government’s failing. From the start of the outbreak, doctors and their colleagues on the frontline reported widespread shortages, with some coming perilously close to running out of the equipment they vitally needed to protect themselves and their patients from this deadly virus. Then just last week, there were reports that vast quantities of faulty and out-of-date PPE from the Government stockpile had continued to be distributed to staff despite promises they’d been withdrawn or re-tested. The Public Accounts Committee is absolutely right: a guarantee with a plan behind it is needed – and its needed now.
“The committee is also right to highlight – as the BMA has continued to stress - that the NHS entered this pandemic severely on the backfoot, with record waits for care, huge workforce shortages and nowhere near the investment needed to maintain services and buildings. The Government must urgently address these areas as a matter of priority, and give the NHS the vital resources it needs to both take on the huge non-Covid backlog and prepare for a potentially devastating second wave.”
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.
- PAC report ‘NHS capital expenditure and financial management’