The Government has extended its offer to GP practices of free personal protective equipment (PPE) from its central stock until the end of March next year.
NHS England said this comes amid the ‘expectation’ that ‘usage will remain high throughout the next financial year’.
In an email bulletin sent to practices last night, NHS England said: ‘The Government is extending the provision of free Covid-19 PPE to health and social care providers until the end of March 2022.
‘Following the previous announcement of free PPE provision until the end of June 2021, the scheme will now be extended to the end of March 2022 as the expectation of clinical experts is that usage will remain high throughout the next financial year.’
It added that practices should continue to access supplies of the ‘rigorously-tested and high-quality‘ PPE ‘via their current distribution channels’.
In February, almost 20 healthcare bodies, including the BMA, wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for stronger PPE guidance amid emerging scientific evidence around the transmission of Covid-19.
It followed findings that coughing generated at least 10 times more infectious aerosol emissions than breathing or speaking – and recommended FFP3 masks in Covid hot zones and similar locations to reflect this.
And in November, a National Audit Office (NAO) report revealed a Government estimate that 195 million items of PPE it had procured are ‘potentially unsuitable’.
Meanwhile, GPs were given a deadline of 5 February to submit claims to receive long-awaited reimbursement for Covid-19 PPE in December, purchased before the central portal was set up.