Faulty and out of date PPE still continues to be distributed to patients and frontline workers.
The British Medical Association has branded the alleged continued use of faulty and out of date personal protective equipment (PPE) has a “national scandal”.
Despite the issue being identified and raised by frontline healthcare workers at the start of the pandemic, allegedly faulty and out of date PPE still continues to be distributed to and used by healthcare workers and patients.
In March, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) issued guidance that nurses should refuse to treat patients if their safety is compromised through inadequate PPE.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA Chair of Council, said: “These reports, if true, are nothing short of a national scandal. If doctors and health and care workers have been supplied with, and worn, faulty, re-dated masks, this is clearly a dereliction of duty to ensure the safety of NHS staff and patients. Suggestions that these faults were known about in May, and yet action is only now being taken, are alarming.
“Wearing substandard PPE places doctors at risk of becoming infected and also spreading the illness to patients. We know that doctors and healthcare staff have become infected and died from this virus and therefore nothing short of 100% fit for purpose PPE should have been supplied from the outset.”
NHS England has previously provided reassurances saying; ‘Please be assured products being issued have passed stringent tests that demonstrate they are safe. The PPE is exposed to extreme conditions for prolonged periods, to see how the product deteriorates. All that are not up to standard are destroyed and not distributed to trusts.’
Passed stringent tests.
Dr Nagpaul continued, “Given these explicit assurances, we now need clear answers as to how these masks were distributed and allowed to be used. Crucially, we need a cast iron guarantee that no faulty or out of date PPE is currently on the front line or in community care.
“Every single item of faulty PPE should now be withdrawn from stocks and replaced with sufficient equipment that is in-date – not re-dated – and with rigorous quality control measures to ensure these properly protect health and care staff.”
Frontline doctors and nurses have called for a public inquiry into the hundreds of healthcare worker deaths and a systematic lack of protective equipment at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least 245 health and social care workers are known to have died from COVID-19 – with some figures suggesting this is dramatically more.
Anthony Johnson, Lead coordinator and nurse with grass-roots group Nurses United UK, said; “From someone with no healthcare training to a Nursing Consultant with decades of training we’ve all become familiar with the importance of PPE.
“That’s why this is disgusting behaviour for this Government to send us to the frontlines with unsafe equipment. Where I come from, you’d hold the people responsible to account – we need a public inquiry now, we need justice”