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PPE: Government reduces GP visor allowance while increasing hand gel provision

The Government has reduced the number of visors GP practices can order from its online personal protective equipment (PPE) portal.

It comes as the latest GP tracker survey from the BMA revealed that one in 10 GPs received no eye protection in the past week.

Since July, practices of all sizes have been able to order 200 visors per week from the portal, which the Government is offering in partnership with eBay, Clipper Logistics and Royal Mail.

But now the most a practice with more than 5,000 patients on its list can order is 100, in two boxes of ‘usually 50 per box’, while practices of fewer than 5,000 patients are rationed just one box of 50 visors.

However, allowances for hand gel have become more generous as two new practice size brackets for ordering limits have been introduced on the portal. 

Practices with fewer than 5,000 patients can order one 500ml bottle of hand hygiene per week, while those with a list between 5,000 and 8,000 can order double the amount.

GPs with 8,000 to 10,999 patients have a weekly allowance of four bottles and those with 11,000 or more can order six.

Previously, GPs with fewer than 8,000 patients could order one bottle of hand gel of ‘usually 500ml’ per week, while those with 8,000 or more patients were entitled to just two bottles.

Except for visors, PPE rations previously available to practices of under 8,000 patients are now available to the new category of those sub-5,000 patients.

In the other size categories, allowances for masks remain in line with previous rations, while those for aprons and gloves are slightly more generous than before.

Meanwhile, the BMA’s August Covid-19 tracker survey, which polled over 1,200 GPs in England and Wales, found that 10% of GPs got ‘no supply at all’ of eye protection in the past week – an improvement of just 1% compared with July.

A further 10% – 131 of the 1,268 surveyed – once again reported that they had experienced shortages of eye protection in the previous week.

And fewer than two-thirds of practices report having ‘adequate’ eye protection (61%) – compared with 62% the month before.

It follows ongoing shortages of eye protection in general practice since April.

It comes as Public Health England (PHE) has downgraded the PPE requirements for GPs delivering this year’s expanded flu programme. 

Last month, the body came under fire from the safety watchdog over ‘poorly-communicated’ PPE guidance, which the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch said had the potential to put patients at risk.

And the BMA is set to vote on an inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic, including PPE provision. 

Weekly GP order limits for the Government PPE portal

   <5,000 patients 5,000-7,999    8,000-10,999 >11,000 
 Type IIR masks











 400 (200 pairs)

 600 (300 pairs)

 1,000 (500 pairs)

 1,400 (700 pairs)

 Hand hygiene

 1 bottle (usually 500ml)

 2 bottles (usually 500ml)

 4 bottles (usually 500ml)

 6 bottles (usually 500ml)


 1 box (usually 50 per box)

 2 boxes (usually 50 per box)

 2 boxes (usually 50 per box)

 2 boxes (usually 50 per box)

Source: Department of Health and Social Care


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