FAMILY DOCTORS across Yorkshire are being left at risk by a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), the British Medical Association has said.
Thursday, 9th April 2020, 6:04 am
Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the British Medical Association's General Practitioners Committee, told the Yorkshire Post that doctors in the region had “little confidence” they would be given supplies of the vital equipment, and are relying on donations to bridge the gap while waiting for more stocks.
It comes as the overwhelming majority of GPs in the region said they are experiencing a shortage of PPE, according to a new survey of the BMA’s local medical committees (LMCs).
In total, 85 per cent of Yorkshire LMCs are experiencing a shortage of equipment, with the majority saying they have not received a second delivery of supplies, pledged by the Government last month.
Dr Vautrey, who is a practising GP in Leeds, said: “GPs have told us they have had to buy their own face masks, and others are relying on donations of science goggles from schools.
“Night after night, they are seeing clinicians around the world on the news wearing full PPE, all the while knowing they have nothing of the kind. They feel they are on the frontline doing the best for their patients, and while we have significantly changed how we deliver general practice, by introducing telephone and video consultations, they are still being put at risk when seeing some patients in person.
“In the next few weeks we are going to see an increase in the number of very sick patients we are seeing at home who may need palliative care, and the correct PPE is vital.”
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) last week updated its advice to GPs around the types of PPE they should be using, and yet, Dr Vautrey said, they are still not receiving the supplies they need, with some practices not receiving anything since an initial delivery a month ago.
He said: “The PPE guidance changed a few days ago, that we should have goggles and visors, which many practices in Yorkshire do not have, and many others are running out of what they do have. When GPs are ringing the hotline to order more, they are not confident that it will be delivered.
“The reality we are seeing does not match the promises the Government has made. We have already seen the death of a GP in London and this is the reality facing all of us.
“Across Yorkshire, practices are running out of face masks and other supplies and this is putting GPs, their staff and their families at risk.”
The BMA has called for rapid testing of community healthcare staff, which is currently not widely available to GPs in the region.
“Testing in the community is extremely limited,” Dr Vautrey said. “In Leeds alone we have over 50,00 health care workers, many of whom are going off sick. We need not only to identify cases so people can be given appropriate treatment, but also so we know they are clear to return to work when they are well.”
A DHSC spokesperson said the armed forces were now aiding the delivery of PPE to the NHS, and this week alone, 30m aprons, masks and gloves have been delivered.
“We are working around the clock to give the NHS and the wider social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak,” the spokesperson said.
“The full weight of the Government is behind this effort and we continue to work closely with industry, social care providers, the NHS, NHS Supply Chain and the army so all our NHS and care staff have the protection they deserve.”