Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


England’s PPE procurement failures must never happen again

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 17 July 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2858

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Rapid Response:

Re: England’s PPE procurement failures must never happen again

Dear Editor

McKee’s editorial describes the unseemly chaos that hallmarked PPE supplies and highlights Care Homes, but it is disappointing that PPE use is not discussed. The rationale for front line NHS staff exposed to C-19 patients is and was clear, but in care homes that was not the case. Arguably PPE would have been primarily to protect residents from being exposed to C-19 not staff and the thankfully relatively low mortality of care workers (compared to apparent risk) would support this.

The distinguished members both of official and independent Sage groups seem to lack risk management expertise in care homes and their residents and surely it is not entirely coincidental that the dystopian (as opposed to Kafkaesque) world of care homes and their residents fared so badly.

Had Sage been “on point” with regard to care homes and ministers more aware of the vulnerability of care home residents mortality may have been significantly reduced but it would have been through a combination of early lockdown, testing and enhanced infection control of which relatively simple PPE may have played a part.

To be clear, Care home responsibilities are the safety and well-being of their residents and staff, they lacked clear, coherent and timely guidance as C-19 hit the UK’s shores, as well as PPE.

Competing interests: No competing interests

19 July 2020
Clive E Bowman
Visiting Professor of Health Sciences
City, University of London