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Majority of GPs do not have sufficient coronavirus protective equipment

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.’