The RCGP has demanded clarity on whether GPs should be using PPE for all patient consultations while the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is ongoing.
Writing to health secretary Matt Hancock, RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said this was one of several concerns members have raised with regards to the PPE situation.
This also includes provision and quality of the PPE, which NHS England has sent to practices.
National guidance to GPs currently only states they should use PPE when patients present with symptoms of coronavirus.
But Professor Marshall said: ‘As the situation develops further, GPs will see an increasing number of patients with Covid-19.
‘Whilst many of these patients will have symptoms associated with the virus, there are those who will present asymptomatically, particularly in primary care settings, but could still be infectious.
‘It is therefore vital that urgent clarity is provided as to whether GPs should begin wearing PPE for all face-to-face patient consultations.’
He added that RCGP members are telling the college that ‘their confidence to carry out patient consultations is being impacted by uncertainty over the quality of PPE being supplied to their surgeries’.
The letter said: ‘This is particularly relevant for aprons and eye protection, which many believe to be providing inadequate protection.
‘We note that the World Health Organisation recommends that GPs should be using eye protection for consultations, yet most practices do not yet have sufficient access to it and there are outstanding concerns around the use of aprons and whether clinicians should have full body cover when seeing patients.’
The BMA has also raised urgent concern on behalf of its members, warning last night that without proper PPE, GPs and hospital doctors will die from the coronavirus.
NHS England said on Monday this week that ‘every GP practice’ has now received a delivery of PPE.