BMA demands greater protection for doctors as it remembers COVID-19 deaths

The government must offer better protection to doctors ahead of a second potential coronavirus spike, the BMA has warned as it paid tribute to the 34 doctors who have died as a result of COVID-19.

Choir sang names of NHS staff who lost lives to COVID-19 (Photo: YouTube/London Symphony Chorus)
Choir sang names of NHS staff who lost lives to COVID-19 (Photo: YouTube/London Symphony Chorus)

A minute's silence was held for the doctors who have died during the pandemic at the BMA’s annual representative meeting, with chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul saying they had paid ‘the ultimate sacrifice’.

In his keynote address, Dr Nagpaul said that doctors and healthcare workers should never again 'fail to be adequately protected in the course of duty'.

He added that the government owed international doctors ‘a debt of gratitude’ and must welcome them into the country, instead of creating ‘hostile barriers’.

During the ARM, BMA leaders backed a motion calling for a public inquiry into the government's handling of the pandemic. The motion called for the inquiry to cover the 'mismanagement of care homes', the 'purchase, delivery, quality control and guidelines for PPE', testing, staff wellbeing and the timing of interventions such as lockdown.

Tribute to doctors

Tuesday's virtual ARM also included a memorial in remembrance of the health and social care staff who have died as a result of COVID-19.

Delegates heard a recorded performance from the London Symphony Chorus singing Never Forget,  a piece that pays tribute to the first 122 health and care workers to die from COVID-19. It is believed that around 300 health and care workers have now died.

Dr Nagpaul argued that doctors and other health care staff shoud be guaranteed the protection they need to do their jobs. He said: ‘We have the nation’s back, but the government must have our's or we will all fall down.

‘Tragically, significant numbers of our colleagues were not adequately protected. At least 34 have paid the ultimate sacrifice and succumbed to the infection.

‘We owe each doctor who has laid down their life our gratitude, and their loved ones our profound sorrow. Never ever again should doctors and healthcare workers fail to be adequately protected in the course of their duty.’

Dr Nagpaul also highlighted the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on doctors and healthcare staff from black, asian and minority ethinic (BAME) backgrounds, saying they had to be properly protected.

A total of 12 GPs and one GP trainee have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. All but two GPs who died had a BAME background, and all but one have been male.

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