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The waiting game

Majority of GPs do not have sufficient coronavirus protective equipment

Exclusive Two out of five GPs have still not received any personal protective equipment (PPE) against coronavirus, a Pulse survey suggests.

The poll of over 400 GPs saw 41% of respondents say they have not received any PPE, while a further 32% said they had not received enough.

Just 15% of GPs said they have sufficient PPE, with the remainder unsure.

This comes despite NHS England promising last week that it would ship PPE free of charge to practices.

The Welsh Government made the same announcement this week, while in Scotland health boards should be distributing PPE.

A GP who has received no proper equipment, Dr Kate Digby, in Cirencester, said she feels 'woefully underprepared'.

She told Pulse: ‘I'm becoming increasingly concerned at the lack of resources being provided for frontline primary care.

‘I feel we are not able to adequately protect our staff from the risk of infection, it's incredibly frustrating. No actual PPE has been provided, it makes a farce of the guidance recommended by Public Health England.'

GPs have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the standard of the equipment received.

Dr Benjamin Williams, a GP in Greater Manchester, said: 'We’ve been sent flimsy sleeveless aprons, poorly-fitting masks and some blue gloves. 

‘We still haven’t been supplied with any goggles, despite being advised that we need them, and infection control organising sessions to show us how to use PPE2, including goggles.’

Dr Shazia Ovaisi, a GP in London, told Pulse: ‘We just received our PPE yesterday. I really don’t think it will protect anyone. Can this not be raised as a serious safety issue?

‘We are putting ourselves on the line and we have no safeguards at all.

‘We are concerned about our patients, our families and of course ourselves. This is just not acceptable.’

An anonymous GP disclosed to Pulse that their practice only has access to one set of single-use PPE, and that the staff have been instructed to ‘buy their own eye protection from (DIY shop) Screwfix’.

Former Manchester LMC lead Dr John Hughes said via Twitter that the PPE received was ‘barely adequate for cleaning the toilet’.

On Monday, health secretary Matt Hancock stated in Parliament: ‘We will release [PPE for GPs] at the right time, and I'm working closely with NHS England to make sure that happens’.

An NHS spokesperson said: 'In the first of a series of regular updates the NHS wrote to every single GP practice in England on Thursday [5 March] pointing them to all the latest advice and guidance for GPs and practice staff, and informing them that hundreds of protective kits, experts at Public Health England recommended, would be sent to them from this week.

'The NHS is continuing to work with the [RCGP], the BMA and local NHS organisations to ensure that family doctors and their teams are supported as the health service works to tackle coronavirus.'


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Readers' comments (11)

  • NO PPE in Birmingham and Solihull, and I believe that within the 'hour' of PPE-to-GP distribution being announced, we had an apologetic letter to say that we wouldn't be receiving any PPE ..

    I deleted this in disgust, in disbelief .. now I almost wonder if I dreamt this !

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  • I think the two words "cannon fodder" should be applied to Primary Care
    That is how it feels..

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  • None here either.
    The ‘fancy dress doctor’ outfit on amazon looks like it would be much more effective though.

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  • Our PPE arrived yesterday - laughable!

    For 10,000 patients and 4 sites we got 3 boxes of normal nitrile gloves, 2 rolls of aprons and 300 normal surgical masks -which we are supposed also to give to a suspected patient.

    We saw nearly 400 patients on Monday alone.

    I see videos of Korea and Italy with workers in coveralls and visas.

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  • Yep. Cannon fodder. They really care.

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  • I cannot reiterate this enough. Do not see the patient. The only way is to give all patients 2 weeks mandatory wait, and telephone triage who you need to. Avoid as many mundane referrals as we can, as our friends and colleagues are going to be swamped in what maybe a catastrophe. Do not fear the patient or lawyer. Let us be strong, direct and decisive in our advice and direction to the anxious and dictate our own surgery plans of what is important and what we will not negotiate to be seen. Protect yourself. There is no greater time for leadership and strength in our knowledge and expertise.

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  • 6 paper masks, 2 Aprons, pair of gloves and a bin bag.
    Thanks for the investment Boris!!

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  • What are people doing about home visits?

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  • Yes we are cannon fodder.
    Yesterday I saw a young boy just back from Disney land Paris who had a temperature, coryzal, breathless in main surgery. Resp rate was Amber warning zone.

    No masks, no warning, no prep as he did not meet current PHE criteria and guideline. So cannot get a test.
    NHS 111 said see gp
    Call to paediatrics and quick consultant conference was we don't want him here. You review him tomorrow
    Practice manager view is he does not meet current high risk criteria.

    GP locums are the Cannon fodder...

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  • I’ve just bought the last P3 respirator in screwifix. Made me feel a bit better but probably not that useful as I can’t get a g replacement filters. Many of of colleagues Are still being way too complacent and blasé about this. The time to act is now.

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