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Doctors slam ‘useless’ PPE provision

Sixty-nine per cent of doctors say they do not feel protected from Covid-19 infection, according to BMA poll

DOCTORS condemned the provision of protective wear as “useless” today, warning that it was putting their lives at risk.

More than two-thirds of doctors (69 per cent) said they do not feel protected from Covid-19 infection, according to a British Medical Association (BMA) poll.

Some have also said they feel forced to work in high-risk areas without the right kit.

The snapshot survey of almost 2,000 medics showed that large numbers of doctors are still expected to care for Covid-19 patients with little or no personal protective equipment (PPE), the BMA said.

More than half, 54 per cent, of doctors working in high-risk environments, including those carrying out risky procedures such as intubating patients, said there were either shortages or no supply at all of appropriate face masks.

One hospital doctor said: “The quality of our eye protection and apron is useless. Some of the PPE provided feels like a tick-box exercise just for psychological reassurance.”

More than half of the 599 GPs who responded said that they had had to buy their own face masks or eye protection; only 2 per cent said they felt fully protected against the virus at work.

One GP told the BMA: “I feel betrayed by the government, who are not transparent enough to say that they do not have the ideal supplies and are therefore asking us to put ourselves in harm’s way with sub-optimal protection.”

The survey also revealed that, despite the government pledging to “ramp up” testing of front-line NHS workers, only 195 respondents said they had ready access to tests.

Overall, 40 per cent of both hospital doctors and GPs said their capacity to treat patients was being hampered by colleagues being off due to self-isolation.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA’s council, said: “In less than three days, nearly 2,000 doctors across the UK have told us how desperate their situation really is.”

He said the majority of doctors reported that they had not had either the advice or the training needed to properly fit, put on and take off PPE.

“Without this training they increase their risk of exposure to virus and of spreading it,” he said.

“Increasing numbers of healthcare workers are dying from Covid-19 in the UK, including four doctors, and it is frankly disgraceful that front-line staff are still expected to work unprotected.

“We must protect doctors so they can protect patients.”

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