The BMA has called for enhanced and more appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to be made available to staff in all healthcare settings, if the NHS is to contend with the latest wave of COVID-19.
BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul stated that growing numbers of doctors were contacting the association with concerns about inadequate PPE and an inflexibility on the part of trusts in extending the range of clinical areas in which enhanced PPE could be used
The BMA has written to the Government’s health minister for prevention, public health and primary care Jo Churchill warning that too many doctors continue to report being equipped with ill-fitting and inadequate PPE.
The association has also written to Public Health England imploring it to take a more precautionary approach to infection control by making FFP3 type PPE masks available to doctors and healthcare staff across all COVID and non-COVID workplace areas, and for an urgent review of its guidance on infection prevention and control.
In his letter to Ms Churchill, Dr Nagpaul said that while healthcare staff had been ‘unwavering’ in their response to the pandemic, many continued to report having to use unsuitable PPE.
He said it was unacceptable that any medical professional should have to compromise their own health and safety and called for an end to ‘one-size-fits-all’ approaches to health and safety. "Female doctors are still struggling to find masks that fit, often failing the "fit test" or being left with sores and ulcers after long shifts when wearing masks that did not fit. We have raised concerns in the past that PPE is designed to fit men, even though 75 per cent of the NHS workforce are women.”
Dr Nagpaul stressed the vital importance of protecting healthcare workers during the pandemic to stop services being overwhelmed by their absence.