Healthcare workers will die without adequate PPE for COVID-19, says BMA

PPE is either being strictly rationed or the correct protection isn’t available at all. 

Matt Bodell
26 March 2020
Infection Control

The British Medical Association has issued a stark warning to the Government.

Without proper personal protection, some healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients are likely to become very ill and some may die, warns the British Medical Association (BMA) today.

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The doctors union has issued this unambiguous warning because of growing evidence that thousands of health and social care staff are still not being provided with the kit they need to properly protect themselves and their patients.

A survey of its members revealed that PPE is either being strictly rationed or the correct protection isn’t available at all.

One doctor wrote, “Coughed on by Covid patients all day today. No visors available…. tomorrow I’m borrowing my 9 year old’s safety specs she got in a science party bag. I wish this was actually a joke.”

Another said, “We have no testing or PPE on mental health units, and the environment was never designed to contain an epidemic. Given that asymptomatic people can spread the virus, within weeks 100% of patients and staff will be infected, and it will be just pot luck who survives.”

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Earlier this week, the Royal College of Nursing called on the Prime Minister to personally intervene to ensure supplies reach workers.

Risking the health of their families.

The BMA’s Chair of Council, Dr Chaand Nagpaul said; “A construction worker wouldn’t be allowed to work without a hard hat and proper boots. Even a bee-keeper wouldn’t inspect a hive without proper protective clothing. And yet this Government expects NHS staff to put themselves at risk of serious illness, or even death, by treating highly infectious Covid-19 patients without wearing proper protection. This is totally unacceptable.”

“We know that from international data that healthcare workers are at higher risk of becoming infected and many dying – they are naturally worried about the risks to their own and families.”

“It’s time for the government to be transparent about the level of supplies we really have, and how they can provide healthcare staff with the level of protection they need.

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“We know hundreds, if not thousands of doctors and frontline staff are risking their health and lives every hour of every day caring for Covid-19 patients and they should not have to do so without the right protection. ”

“For their sakes and for the sake of the population at large, it has to stop. Every healthcare worker in every hospital or every GP surgery must have the PPE they desperately need and have it today.”

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