BMA hits out over inadequate PPE in high-risk primary care settings

BMA leaders have called for a review of PPE and condemned the current 'one-size-fits-all' approach, warning that staff in high-risk primary and secondary care roles are inadequately protected.

The Labour party has also demanded a review and joined condemnation of one-size-fits-all PPE, demanding the government 'rapidly address PPE guidelines to ensure staff are fully protected and rapidly complete the staff vaccination programme'.

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul wrote to health minister Jo Churchill last week to highlight 'persistent concerns from BMA members regarding inadequacy of appropriate PPE provision for healthcare workers – specifically, ill-fitting PPE unsuitable for the wearer'.

NHS staff had been 'unwavering in their professionalism and dedication to protecting the health and wellbeing of their patients' - and should not have their own safety compromised by inadequate PPE, he warned.

PPE guidance

'Guidance and provision must take account of differing needs of the individual healthcare worker; no matter who you are, you should have proper-fitting PPE – regardless of gender, ethnicity and religion,' the letter said.

'However, our members continue to report issues. Female doctors are still struggling to find masks that
fit, often failing the "fit test" or being left with sores and ulcers after long shifts when wearing masks
that did not fit. We have raised concerns in the past that PPE is designed to fit men, even though 75%
of the NHS workforce are women. Without properly fitting face protection, these staff are putting themselves at risk.'

Following the Labour call for a review Dr Nagpaul said: 'The government can no longer continue to ignore growing calls to urgently review current PPE guidance for healthcare workers to protect them as they battle with rocketing infection rates and a highly transmissible variant of the virus.

High-risk GP roles

'Failure to provide greater protection, such as FFP3 masks, in high-risk primary and secondary care settings, could result in more healthcare workers becoming ill, or at worst, dying. Furthermore, if healthcare workers become infected from inadequate PPE it risks spreading infection to colleagues and patients with serious consequences for the health service.'

Dr Nagpaul added: 'The government has continually praised the efforts of frontline staff throughout this pandemic but the most important thing they can do now is to ensure they are adequately protected so they can safely continue their lifesaving work.'

Hundreds of NHS staff have died during the pandemic to date, including 16 GPs. Click here to read a GPonline tribute to the GPs who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

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