BMA survey reveals that 67% of doctors in Wales do not feel fully protected from COVID-19 at work

by BMA Cymru Wales media team Press release from BMA Cymru Wales.
Location: Wales
Published: Sunday 3 May 2020

Doctors from across Wales have responded to a BMA survey, answering questions on PPE provision, their well-being and personal safety on the frontline.

The first set of results to come from this survey show that 67% of doctors in Wales do not feel fully protected from COVID-19 at work, and 60% have had to purchase items of PPE directly, or have received supplies as an external donation due to non-availability of official NHS procurement supplies.

Dr David Bailey, BMA Cymru Wales Council Chair said:

“The survey shows that overall, there has been an improvement in the provision of PPE, but there’s clearly still a lot for the Welsh Government and employers to do to reassure staff. We are calling on Welsh Government to be transparent about supplies.

“27% of doctors have reported shortages of gowns with long sleeves, in settings where they are most at risk, caring for the sickest COVID-19 patients. 17% of doctors either failed or had not been fit tested for a FFP3 mask – a mask of this type is used when performing highly infectious medical procedures and which if not properly fitted means a healthcare worker remains at significant risk of becoming infected. It’s unacceptable to compromise their safety in this way.”

33% of doctors told the BMA they wouldn’t bother to speak up about an issue such as PPE or staffing shortages, as they didn’t think anything would be done about it, 7% said they feared speaking out.

Dr Bailey said:

“I’m not surprised that doctors feel this way, I’ve heard it from my colleagues first-hand – it’s appalling – Welsh Government must remind employers to encourage staff to raise concerns in the workplace. Staff must feel supported to do so.”

Dr Bailey continued:

“I’m deeply troubled by the fact that 67% of doctors do not feel fully protected from COVID-19 in their place of work.

“With one in four reporting worsening mental distress during the pandemic including depression, anxiety and burnout, we are asking Welsh Government and employers to reflect on the results of this survey - and act fast - to protect frontline staff who are putting their lives on the line to keep the people of Wales safe and well, regardless of whether they themselves feel safe or not.

“It’s important, now more than ever, that they know their mental health is being supported.

“Alongside the Heath for Health Professionals Wales service, the BMA has a wellbeing support service for doctors, which is free, confidential and available 24/7. I’d encourage all doctors to make use of these services.”

Ends

 

Notes to editors

835 doctors from across Wales responded to the survey which was carried out between the 28th and 30th April 2020.

On the question, “Taking everything into account, do you feel safely protected from coronavirus infection in your place of work?” 67% of doctors said the felt either partly or not at all protected.

On the question, “Have you had to purchase items of PPE directly yourself, or received supplies as an external donation (e.g. charity, local firms), due to non-availability of official NHS procurement supplies?” 60% said that they had either bought PPE or had it donated to them for use.

On the question, “ During this pandemic, do you consider that you are currently suffering from any of depression, anxiety, stress, burnout*, emotional distress or other mental health condition relating to or made worse by your work?” (*Burnout is characterised by a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress) Although half reported they were not suffering, 25% said they were and that it was worse as a result of the crisis.

The BMA provides a range of wellbeing services including 24/7 counselling.

On the question “If you have not reported or spoken out about an issue, why was this?” 33% of doctors told the BMA they wouldn’t bother to speak up about an issue such as PPE or staffing shortages, as they didn’t think anything would be done about it, 7% said they feared speaking out.