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UK News Coronavirus in the UK: Doctors beg patients and public for help with protective equipment

23:20  30 march  2020
23:20  30 march  2020 Source:   inews.co.uk

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  Coronavirus in the UK: Doctors beg patients and public for help with protective equipment © Provided by The i

GPs are being forced to “beg” their patients and the public for protective equipment as concerns grow over them being put at risk of being infected by Covid-19, i can reveal.

a person holding a sign © Provided by The i

Severe shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the NHS has left GPs and other medics having to resort to buying their own kit from DIY stores.

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But the badly needed protective masks and goggles have widely sold out online and in hardware stores, leading GPs to ask the public for any unused equipment they may have bought for home DIY projects.

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It comes after clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for their local area – last week told GPs and other primary carers to source their own PPE due to a lack of supply.

'GPs resorting to begging patients'

The Government has said that no member of the NHS should be expected to treat patients suspected of having Covid-19 without proper protection (Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty)

One GP in Yorkshire told i that they felt “abandoned” by their CCG, pointing out that they were unable to buy their own kit as it had sold out.

“GPs are now resorting to begging patients for equipment,” the doctor said. “Why should GPs risk their and their families’ lives by seeing Covid patients with poor equipment or no equipment at all?”

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Medics are using social media to share tips on where to source equipment as well as asking the public to donate unused eye-protectors and FFP3 respirators, which are required when caring for patients known or suspected to be infected with a newly identified infectious respiratory virus.

Schools have been donating goggles and other protective equipment from their science departments to local hospitals.

Supplies being delivered

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries and Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick (Photo: PA)

The Government has said that no member of the NHS should be expected to treat patients suspected of having Covid-19 without proper protection.

The Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said 170 million masks and 10 million items of cleaning equipment would be delivered to NHS trusts and healthcare settings over the coming days.

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Figures released by the Royal College of Physicians revealed that around one in four doctors was not at work, which is taking its toll on emergency departments.

Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the RCP, said about 25 per cent of the doctor workforce was off either with coronavirus or because a family member or housemate was ill.

“At the moment, we think it’s more doctors self-isolating with family members, though there are some off sick themselves,” he said.

He added that it was unclear whether this would be a “rolling number” or if it would ease as testing of NHS staff increased and people came out of isolation.

“Of course the worry is that we will lose more people to Covid-related illness,” he said.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association, warned that without adequate protection “doctors will become infected and ill, and some will die”.

Read More:

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The PPE kit in short supply

The most sought-after equipment for NHS staff is protection for the face – the primary route by which Covid-19 is transmitted.

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High-quality masks known as FFP3 or N95 masks, which cover the nose and mouth, are in high demand among health workers because they filter out the air that is inhaled.

Such masks are supposed to be “fit tested” to check they fit correctly and are therefore suitable for use. If they are not, then staff should be provided with respiratory hoods that cover the whole head, but medical personnel say these are scarce. Many trusts have dropped the requirement for staff to be tested for FFP3 masks in order to give them some protection against infection.

Visors to protect NHS workers’ eyes from cough droplets are also in short supply, with some reports suggesting that visors meant to be used only once are instead being kept and cleaned in an effort to avoid shortages. Many on the frontline have bought goggles from DIY stores.

All-in-one protective suits with hoods are another item of PPE that medics, particularly those working with Covid-19 infected patients, have been advised to wear but are finding hard to come by. Many have been provided with plastic aprons that do not cover the arms or neck.

NHS staff have also called for more arm’s-length gloves, despite Public Health England guidance stating shorter surgical gloves are sufficient.

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