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The waiting game

GPs set to receive eye protection soon, says NHS England

The recommended eye protection for GPs is now on its way, NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani has said.

Speaking in a webinar on Thursday, Dr Kanani admitted that personal protective equipment (PPE) ‘continues to be an issue’ and that distribution has been ‘variable’.

She also said that the online ordering service for GPs will be up and running soon.

However, she told GPs: 'A quantity of the PPE that's now recommended - including the eye protection - has now been sent out to wholesalers and local systems to distribute to primary care.

'I am assured that the eye visors and those kits have now gone through the system.’

Additional PPE has been ‘released to established wholesalers’ so that GPs can access supplies ‘through business as usual routes’ - ie, via usual supplies -  an NHS England webinar slide added.

PHE updated guidance to GPs earlier this month to say they should wear eye protection alongside surgical facemasks, gowns and gloves when within two metres of patients with confirmed or possible coronavirus.

NHS England later said all patients should be treated as having possible coronavirus at this time.

Dr Kanani added: 'We hope that next week when the online ordering service is up and running, it will help to contribute to a more consistent supply of PPE.'

Meanwhile, the emergency PPE hotline – which Pulse previously reported was redirecting GPs to their usual suppliers to buy their own PPE – is still available ‘if all else fails’, she said.

It comes as health secretary Matt Hancock drew criticism from healthcare workers after suggesting that they were over-using PPE.

Announcing a new PPE plan on Friday, Mr Hancock said: ‘There’s enough PPE to go around, but only if it’s used in line with our guidance. We need everyone to treat PPE like the precious resource that it is.

‘Everyone should use the equipment they clinically need in line with the guidelines, no more and no less.’

As part of this plan, the new PPE ordering website for primary, social and community care providers will be rolled out ‘in the coming weeks’, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

A prototype of the ordering website initiative, which will ship directly via Royal Mail, was being tested by ‘an initial group of primary care providers’ last week, the PPE plan added.

Meanwhile, all Government guidance will be highlighted in a new ‘hub’ to help ensure that PPE is not ‘wasted or stockpiled’, the DHSC said.

It said: ‘[One aim of the plan is] being clear who needs PPE and when, and who does not, based on UK clinical expertise and WHO standards.

‘This will ensure workers on the front line are able to do their jobs safely, while making sure PPE is only used when clinically necessary and isn’t wasted or stockpiled.’

More than 761 million items of PPE have so far been delivered to different healthcare settings including 22 million to primary care providers, the DHSC said.

However, it reiterated Government calls for UK industry to ‘ramp up’ domestic PPE production, with companies including Burberry, Rolls Royce and McLaren already starting to manufacture PPE.

The plan said: ‘While we entered the crisis with a stockpile designed to respond to an outbreak of pandemic influenza and a no-deal Brexit, our supply chain for PPE was designed to accommodate delivering to 226 NHS Trusts.

‘As of this week, we are now providing essential PPE supplies to 58,000 different providers including care homes, GP surgeries, hospices and community care organisations.’

Last week, Pulse revealed that PPE distributors and manufacturers are unable to get hold of or make the quantity of items required, as bulk orders placed by some organisations have swept away reserves.

A recent BMA study found that nine in 10 GPs have no eye protection, while 62% reported problems with supply of facemasks.  

Meanwhile, GPs across the country have come together to share homemade PPE in attempts to compensate for the ongoing supply problems.

Readers' comments (23)

  • If the CQC were rating your performance to date NHSE it would not only be ‘Inadequate’ but culpably, dangerously wantonly so. Where is the apology for your inept performance to date? We gave up relying on your mythical supply chains weeks ago.

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  • Vinci Ho

    I am sorry , Nikki , while I am fully understanding where you are coming from , the track record and credibility of NHS England in last few months leading up to this historic crisis of Covid-19 has been very poor . Fine , the passing of the Coronavirus Bill virtually have granted you and your organisation the full power to impose anything on our GP colleagues . You can even blame GPs are not doing enough to help the hospital situation and we should be altogether in this war .
    Question is , do you think you have done enough to help us(GPs) to help you ? The criticism on the government in PPE is unequivocal. Hospital colleague who died of Covid-19 had already alarmed the system way before . The fiasco of rushing GPs to pull ‘lists’ of patients needing shielding is beyond shambolic.
    While I am prepared to stand up to tabloid headline like ‘GP folded up their arms doing nothing to save Coronavirus patients ‘ , are you prepared to stand in front of your mirror to face another headline ,’ NHS England and GP leaders failed to protect frontline colleagues from dying ‘?
    I have said before that I fully respected collectivism in the middle of a national disaster but this can only be applicable in the presence of empathetic , understanding and sensible leadership. 😑

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  • The distribution of PPEs is a Herculean task apparently,so we are told.
    So was the erection of two hospitals by the Chinese in a matter of days also Herculean.

    Discuss

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  • Matt Hancock should apologise unreservedly for his appalling comments suggesting NHS staff are using PPE inappropriately . And then he should resign as there is no respect , only utter contempt for him by all NHS staff risking their life . Telling us he is very proud is meaningless when he has let us all down by not providing the PPE in the first place , but to imply we are overusing it is beyond belief .

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  • Vinci you are wasting your time.... she thinks she's brilliant every time she looks in the mirror....

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  • There needs to be a clearout and total rethink of NHS management at the end of this. It is not fit for purpose.

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  • Gross Negligence Manslaughter charges like Dr Bawa Garba should apply as well as corporate manslaughter charges. The families should sue or do a class action. Finally someone gets it that these patients who cough in your face is aerosol generating. Why is it so hard?

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  • ‘While we entered the crisis with a stockpile designed to respond to an outbreak of pandemic influenza and a no-deal Brexit, our supply chain for PPE was designed to accommodate delivering to 226 NHS Trusts.

    Why?

    Are GP services and nursing homes immune from pandemic influenza or pandemic covid 19 then?

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  • See ONS figures and more deaths of nursing staff. But look at the bright side. Less bed blocking and massive saving on pension contributions. Gets rid of those pesky NHS workers who complain. Shame that the media drove out the thinkers and left us with the thick skinned narcissistic Oxbridge PPE graduates. They probably are getting their PPEs mixed up. Not a great advert for Oxbridge.

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  • I really dont understand why Pulse are towing the party line on this. Instead of this supine reporting with lovely PR pictures of apparatchiks youd think they might see that GPs are desperately unhappy with the job NHS England are doing.

    I know many are working from home but some critical reporting can still be done.

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