Frontline staff must have protective equipment and priority testing, demands BMA

The BMA reports some staff, in desperation, are buying their own masks from DIY stores.

Kizzy Bass
19 March 2020
COVID-19

Frontline staff do not have the right protective equipment, or if they do, it’s in very short supply.

All frontline NHS staff treating patients with or are suspected of having COVID-19 must have a reliable supply of the proper protective equipment and access to testing, the BMA has released today.

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This has come after the Association has heard of stories from doctors who have gone to their local DIY stores out of desperation, to buy masks as they can’t access any at work. Others have even tried asking on building sites.

The BMA has heard from many of its members that they do not have either the right protective equipment, or if they do, it’s in very short supply.

Both GPs and hospital doctors have said they feel they are putting themselves at risk treating patients due to the lack of protective equipment available for them to wear.

Some staff report not been giving the opportunity to have masks test-fitted ahead of treating patients – which is crucial for the masks to provide protection.

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Employers have a legal, moral and ethical responsibility to protect staff and to make sure that enough reliable masks, gowns, goggles and gloves are available, according to the BMA.

It also wants testing to be carried out on all healthcare workers and their immediate families to minimise the amount of staff sitting at home self isolating, not truly knowing if they have the virus.

Limit the risks.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA Chair of Council said: “There are limits to the risks to which doctors, indeed all healthcare workers, can reasonably be expected to expose themselves to.

“Frontline staff must have the proper personal protective equipment if they are treating patients with COVID-19 or suspected to have COVID-19.

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“We are hearing of staff trying to buy masks from DIY stores in desperation because they are not being provided with it by their employers.

“This is totally unacceptable; healthcare workers should not, and do not, have to expose themselves to high risk situations without having adequate PPE.

“The Government must find a reliable way to substantially increase the production and distribution of PPE. If any healthcare worker, treating someone with Covid-19 was to become ill, or worse, due to a lack of PPE, the consequences will be dire and the impact on patient care catastrophic.

“As well as the correct PPE, it’s imperative that healthcare workers who are self-isolating, or suspect they may have the virus, are tested without further delay.

“The NHS will struggle even more if increasing numbers of staff are forced to remain at home for up to 2 weeks, not knowing whether they have the virus and therefore not able to care for patients.

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