Practice staff continue to work with inadequate personal protective equipment – with some feeling “bullied” to stay at work, medical organisations warned today.
As Prime Minister Boris Johnson was being treated in intensive care, the British Medical Association and the Doctors’ Association both released up-to-the-minute feedback from doctors about the state of the front-line.
The BMA gathered responses from 2,000 doctors and found that more than half of those in high-risk environments reported shortages of adequate face masks.
Some 65% said they did not have access to eye protection while 55% said they felt pressurised into working in high risks areas. Among doctors who were GPs and having contact with Covid-19 patients, nearly 90% reported shortages of eye protection and 62% reported problems of facemask supply.
Out of the 2,000, just 195 said they had ready access to testing while 40% said that colleagues were having to self-isolate, putting other staff under further pressure. Among hospital doctors 27% reported that basic anti-infection supplies such as soap were running low.
The Doctors’ Association reported similar findings from its on-line reporting system. Out of 500 reports, some 43% of doctors reported not having eye protection and more than 70% reported not having access to respirator masks or long sleeve gowns. This also applied to more than 40% of those undertaking aerosol-generating procedures – and 20% of these did not have access to eye protection.
One report to the Doctors’ Association said: “Paediatricians are attending deliveries with Covid-19 positive mothers in just a flimsy apron and no FFP3 mask. In some cases they’ve needed to commence resuscitation of these babies…needing to accept the high risk to themselves of resuscitating them without adequate protection.”
BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “Doctors report being put into situations which clearly contravene the PHE guidance issued last week. They’ve told us they are pressurised to see a patient without adequate protection, or to perform a high-risk procedure where they are at risk of becoming infected, or where they may go on to infect another patient – and all because they don’t have the right PPE. They are putting themselves and the lives of their patients at risk. A 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 added: “We are weeks into the most serious health crisis this country has faced in modern times and doctors are telling us they don’t have any or don’t have enough protective equipment.”
Doctors’ Association president Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden said: “It is heart-breaking to hear that some staff have been told to simply ‘hold their breath’ due to lack of masks. Doctors are dying. Nurses are dying. We are devastated and can no longer stand by and watch as more dedicated colleagues lose their life.”