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Covid-19: doctors’ leaders warn that staff could quit and may die over lack of protective equipment

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1257 (Published 26 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m1257

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  1. Melanie Newman
  1. London, UK

The BMA has called the shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) across the NHS “totally unacceptable” and warned the government that without proper kits some doctors treating patients with covid-19 may die.

Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA’s Chair of Council, has called for the government to be transparent about the level of supplies it has.

The Royal College of GPs has also raised concerns about the protective kits being provided to primary care staff and has called for guidance on how and when they should be using PPE during patient consultations.

Reports from BMA members suggest that, in general, supplies of PPE were not getting through to frontline NHS staff, or if they were it was in small amounts, was rationed, or was not offering enough protection

In response to a call for doctors’ experiences of getting PPE, one told the BMA, “Coughed on by covid patients all day today. No visors available. Tomorrow I’m borrowing my nine year old’s safety specs she got in a science party bag. I wish this was actually a joke.”

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 …

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