Almost 90% of GPs in contact with Covid patients reported either shortages or no access at all to eye protection, and 62% reported problems with supply of facemasks, the BMA has said.
In a BMA survey of nearly 2,000 doctors, more than half of GP respondents said they had had to buy their own facemasks or eye protection, with only 2% saying they felt fully protected against the virus at work.
The BMA launched the survey following the Government’s updating of PPE guidelines for doctors and ‘mounting anecdotal evidence that frontline workers simply don’t have access to enough masks, gloves and gowns’.
The survey shows that doctors ‘are not being provided with the appropriate protective equipment as specified by the Government’s own guidelines’, it argued.
One GP told the BMA: ‘I feel betrayed by the Government who are not transparent enough to say that they do not have the ideal supplies and are therefore asking us to put ourselves in harms’ way with suboptimal protection.’
BMA Council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: ‘Despite assurances from the Government that personal protective equipment is making its way to the front line, this snapshot survey reveals a very different picture – healthcare workers in the UK simply do not have enough protective equipment to keep them safe.’
He said this comes as the UK is ‘weeks into the most serious health crisis this country has faced in modern times’.
He said: ‘Until now, we have been hearing anecdotal stories about shortages or a lack of PPE, this survey confirms the extent of this failure.’
‘Doctors report being put into situations which clearly contravene the PHE guidance issued last week. They’ve told us they are pressurised to see a patient without adequate protection, or to perform a high-risk procedure where they are at risk of becoming infected, or where they may go on to infect another patient – and all because they don’t have the right PPE.
‘They are putting themselves and the lives of their patients at risk,’ said Dr Nagpaul.
PHE updated guidance to GPs last week to say they should wear eye protection alongside surgical facemasks, gowns and gloves when treating patients with confirmed or possible coronavirus.
NHS England later said all patients should be treated as having possible coronavirus at this time.