PPE supply remains low

by Keith Cooper

Supplies of basic protective equipment continue to fail to reach large numbers of frontline doctors despite scores of factories ready and willing to make them, new BMA research reveals.

Location: UK
Published: Saturday 18 April 2020
Depiction of molecular virus

Half of all doctors working in high-risk areas reported shortages or no supply of long-sleeved disposable gowns and goggles, a BMA survey of 6,000 respondents finds.

More than 45 per cent said they felt pressure often or sometimes to work without adequate protection.

Almost two-thirds of GPs (64 per cent) reported shortages or no eye protection at all.

Separately, the BMA has been contacted by 70 firms who are ‘ready and willing’ to manufacture PPE (personal protective equipment) but are yet to receive a response through official Government and NHS routes.

The BMA has passed the details of these companies on to the Department of Health and Social Care.


Ad-hoc measures

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The results of the snapshot survey indicate some improvement in supply levels since the association first surveyed doctors earlier this month.

However, respondents to this week’s survey still describe sourcing their own PPE from local schools, voluntary groups, or buying it from DIY stores. One practice said it had spent £12,000 on protective equipment.

Others described hospitals washing and reusing gowns and visors.

One doctor said PPE levels left them feeling as though they were being ‘thrown to the wolves’, while another said they should not be forced to choose between doing their job or keeping themselves and their family safe.


Risk to lives

BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said the findings revealed a ‘sorry state of affairs’.

‘Two months into the COVID-19 crisis in Britain, we shouldn’t still be hearing that doctors feel unprotected when they go to work,’ he added.

‘We renew our call for the Government to work with manufacturers to ramp up domestic supply. Too many doctors and healthcare staff have already lost their lives. We cannot afford to risk losing any more.’

See the results for GPs

See the results for hospital doctors