Practices to receive advice on how to use PPE after CMO warning

Personal protective equipment (PPE) being distributed to GP practices in England next week will come with advice on how to use it, after the CMO warned doctors could be at risk.

Masks to be distributed to GPs (Photo: Aleksandr Zubkov/Getty Images)
Masks to be distributed to GPs (Photo: Aleksandr Zubkov/Getty Images)

CMO Professor Chris Whitty told MPs on the health and social care select committee this week it was vital that NHS staff did not use PPE if they had not received training - warning they could put themselves at risk of infection.

In a letter to GPs yesterday, NHS medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani confirmed surgeries would receive an ‘initial stock’ of PPE to be delivered next week, including masks and gloves.

The BMA has now confirmed to GPonline that GPs will be given advice on how to use the equipment when supplies are delivered.

Coronavirus outbreak

Speaking about government measures to keep staff and patients safe from Covid-19, which has now infected 163 people in the UK, BMA representative body chair Dr Helena McKeown said: ‘GPs are the first line of defence in the NHS, so it’s imperative that we have access to the right protection against COVID-19 as we work to contain the infection, particularly when caring for those in self-isolation.

‘We have been working closely with NHS England to ensure surgeries have the appropriate equipment, and we’re pleased to see that extra supplies are now going to be delivered to practices across the country.

‘We will continue to have discussions with NHS England about the protection of other doctors and medical students, such as those in hospitals and intensive care units where some COVID-19 patients might need further treatment.

‘This is not a time to be complacent and all preventative steps must be taken so that we can stay one step ahead of the next possible development – not only for the sake of those working on the frontline, but also, and most importantly, our patients.’

Supplies incoming

As of ‘early next week’, GP surgeries will receive a package of 400 general use aprons, 300 pairs of examination gloves and 300 fluid repellent face masks. Meanwhile, it was confirmed larger surgeries will receive repeat deliveries ‘to ensure they have sufficient amounts’.

On Monday, the BMA warned against 'complacency' in the NHS coronavirus response, calling for urgent distribution of PPE equipment to practices amid warnings from GPs over shortages.

GPs have been advised to wear surgical masks and other protective equipment if contact with a suspected coronavirus case is unavoidable.

Professor Whitty told MPs this week: ‘Putting on PPE is easy, taking it off without actually contaminating yourself is a lot harder and people should not be using PPE unless they are trained to use it because, in fact, you can often contaminate yourself because you are not experienced.’

A 20,000-patient GP practice in Devon is thought to be the first to shut down for an extended period of time due to the coronavirus outbreak.

As of 6 March 2020, 20,338 people have been tested in the UK, of which 20,175 were confirmed negative and 163 were confirmed as positive. One patient who tested positive for COVID-19 has died.

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