New guidance on PPE shortages is admission of ‘dire situation’ doctors face, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Published: Saturday 18 April 2020
Contract and pen article illustration

Responding to new Public Health England guidance, which recommends the reuse of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers in the face of shortages, as well as alternatives such as wearing aprons instead of gowns to treat Covid-19 patients, Dr Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chair, said:

“The Health and Social Care Secretary today admitted he couldn’t guarantee that supplies of gowns wouldn’t run out this weekend, and now this guidance is a further admission of the dire situation that some doctors and healthcare workers continue to find themselves in because of Government failings.

“Telling staff to use aprons in the place of gowns directly contravenes both Public Health England’s previous guidance and that of the World Health Organisation. This is guidance that’s there to help keep healthcare workers and their patients, out of harms’ way.

“If it’s being proposed that staff reuse equipment, this must be demonstrably driven by science and the best evidence – rather than availability – and it absolutely cannot compromise the protection of healthcare workers.

“Too many healthcare workers have already died. More doctors and their colleagues cannot be expected to put their own lives on the line in a bid to save others, and this new advice means they could be doing just that. It’s not a decision they should have to make.”



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. For media enquiries please email [email protected] or call 020 7383 6448.