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GPs told to buy own protective masks and clothing

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs around the country are being told they must buy their own masks and protective clothing when dealing with swine flu cases.

PCOs in areas including Birmingham and Sefton have advised practices to order their own supplies, as the growing threat of a full pandemic increases.

The advice appears to fly in the face of recent guidance from the RCGP and BMA stipulating that PCO's should supply masks to practices ‘free of charge'.

GPs have hit out at the move, claiming they are not receiving adequate support in dealing with the outbreak.

In Birmingham, LMC members have sent an email to all PCTs in the city, warning that trusts had been slow to react on providing equipment and protective clothing for GPs.

Nicola Benge, director of public health at Birmingham East and North PCT, speaking for all the city's PCTs, confirmed that trusts were not providing masks and protective clothing for GPs, but said most GPs should have them already.

‘The numbers of people who meet the criteria for swine flu are very low and under a dozen in Birmingham,' said Ms Benge.

‘Most GPs should have their own masks but if they don't do minor surgery and want to protect their own staff, these items are easily obtainable.

‘The GPs I have spoken to in north Birmingham had their own gloves and masks.'

Elsewhere, NHS Sefton has advised practices to order their own supplies from medical supplier ICS.

Dr Fay Wilson, a GP in Birmingham, said there was widespread chaos and confusion over the provision.

‘We do not have any supplies of masks, swabs, culture media, aprons or anything,' she said.

‘We have asked the PCTs but they don't have any either. The PCT doesn't know where we can get them from, and is spending most of their time in meetings.'

‘If we get to a point where there are a lot of people with the disease, then we will need supplies of things and I am hoping they are working on it.'

GPs are having to pay for their own masks GPs are having to pay for their own masks

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