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The waiting game

GPs unable to get hold of coronavirus PPE as NHS England says it will not supply it

GPs fear they do not have suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect their practices from the coronavirus infection.

The BMA has called for NHS England to supply PPE to GP surgeries amid reports that the equipment is in short supply, with some UK suppliers setting up helplines to deal with the demand.

Current guidelines from NHS England state that GP surgeries do not need specialist PPE. According to NHS England, the guidelines come as a result of in-depth consultations with infection prevention specialists but they have been causing confusion and anger in the GP community.

East Sussex LMC chair Dr Russell Brown, a member of the BMA's GP Committee, said: 'It’s just absolutely typical that there is absolutely no thought whatsoever given to supporting general practice.

'We have a bit [of PPE equipment], but it’s utterly ridiculous that [only] the hospitals and everyone get supplied. NHS England are expecting very small general practices to do everything themselves.' 

NHS England told Pulse that GPs should not be dealing with coronavirus cases and so coronavirus PPE is not needed.

GPs fear that the guidelines have not been well thought out and have raised concerns about deep cleaning surgeries without specialist PPE. NHS England has stated that regular PPE, more commonly used when a patient presents with an illness such as norovirus, is adequate for GP surgeries.

'I’m sorry, but this is not normal business. This is something exceptional and I think there should be a lot more support from NHS England,' said Dr Brown.

In some areas in the country, CCGs are helping local GP surgeries.

Dr Grant Ingrams, a GP in Leicester, told Pulse that his surgery was invited to a recent meeting where all attendees would be given coronavirus PPE.

'Unfortunately, the meeting was oversubscribed, so no one from our practice could go to it, so I don’t know where that leaves us,' he said.

Dr Ingrams added: 'We’ve tasked our assistant manager to try and source some PPE. At the moment we don’t have any. We are doomed really. In terms of preparation I don’t think we are, I think we should all just run around with our hands in the air saying "panic".

'The NHS isn’t prepared for it. The NHS is running at over capacity at the moment anyway and if this grows, the NHS won’t cope with this at all. We’ll find ways of coping, but it will be at the expense of current patients. Patients will suffer significantly.'

The BMA is still awaiting a response to their request to supply GP surgeries with coronavirus PPE.

NHS England told Pulse that there needs to be some communication with GPs, but it was business as usual and there was no shortage of regular PPE.

The news comes as NHS England has denied the BMA's request for a national suspension of online booking of appointments due to the risk of patients attending without triage. However, a number of GP practices across the country have defied the national stance.

 

Related images

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Readers' comments (21)

  • It's long past time that GPs stop considering NHS England as a supportive friend.

    Think of them as an abusive employer and it all makes sense.

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  • Yep usual helpful selves.

    We've already been shut down once due to "at risk" patient attending surgery.

    My Pharmacy student daughter was appalled by one answer given in her latest simulated surgery test which was go to A/E!

    I've already posted advice to a patient and swine flu from a number of years ago.

    Finally what do infection control specialist know about the coal face?? Especially as 2 Australians were -ve in Yokahama but are now +ve back home.

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  • I am sure I heard the CMO on the radio saying we could not hospitalize ourselves out of this. Yet that is just what NHSE is trying to do. If all the support and resources are in the acute sector then we will just have to go with it and refer all the patients there. No-one to be allowed into GP premises without negative screening. If the risk criteria are widened the acute sector will end up dealing with everyone with a fever or a cough. What's the betting NHSE might change their minds about PPE for GPs? As for nhs111, they are positively dangerous in their inability to follow PHE advice and ask the travel questions.

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  • We bought small amount PPE in January when it was still available and was clear that we were going to need it. No good waiting for NHSE. They don't care about your safety in Primary Care.
    Now we are tasked with contacting patients and following up all the nCoV tests done by local hospitals as they don't have the capacity to follow-up, but apparently we do!
    Last week NHS111 were still asking some people with viral illness if they had ridden a camel, rather than if they had been to China!

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  • NHSE. Always behind us.
    20 miles behind the front line, in the chateau, doing nothing of any discernible benefit.

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  • Absolute shambles. No co-ordinated effort which really is when NHSE needs to shine and show their purpose.
    Yes NHSE is behind us---not supporting but backstabbing. Well said an abusive employer. GPs faced with the same risks gets zero protection compared to hospitals.

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  • WE ARE VIEWED AS CANNON FODDER...IT IS LIKE A BLACKADDER SKETCH.....

    SIR, ANY CHANCE OF HAVING SOME PROTECTION OTHER THAN A BROOMSTICK IN THE TRENCHES....

    HOW DARE YOU, CHEEKY BOY...JUST RUGBY TACKLE BOSCH BEFORE A HEARTY MEAL.....

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  • WHY ISN'T THE EDITOR ON THE PHONE TO THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS???

    MATT HANCOCK SAID THAT THE NHS IS VERY "WELL PREPARED"....THE SMALL PRINT DOES NOT INCLUDE US.....

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  • COME ON, EDITOR...PICK UP THE PHONE AND TELL YOUR MATES AT THE NATIONAL RAGS....LET THE PEOPLE KNOW THE TRUTH...AT LEAST

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  • When would you use ppe under current guidance for covid in general practice?

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