KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 – Associations in the UK have claimed that doctors are forced to treat coronavirus patients despite a shortage of protective masks, gowns and eyewear.
“Lack of personal protective equipment continues to be a critical issue. It is heartbreaking to hear that some staff have been told to simply ‘hold their breath’ due to lack of masks,” said Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, president of the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK), according to The Guardian.
“Doctors are dying. Nurses are dying. We are devastated, and can no longer stand by and watch as more dedicated colleagues lose their life.”
The daily reported that at least three NHS doctors, two nurses and one midwife have died due to the deadly virus.
According to DAUK’s work by collecting 500 reports so far from 193 hospital trusts and GP practices using an app it has developed with a firm called Messly, the association found that 72 per cent of doctors do not have access to an FFP3 mask when they need one. Apart from that, 77 per cent report a lack of long-sleeved gowns, and 43 per cent cannot always use a visor or goggles when needed.
“The findings also indicate that protective kit is still in short supply for doctors undertaking ‘aerosol generating procedures’ on Covid-19 patients, such as intubating them, where potentially dangerous droplets are expelled from their mouths,” The Guardian added.
A total of 49 per cent of frontliners involved in the procedures do not always have access to a gown, 42 per cent an FFP3 mask and 20 per cent proper eye protection.
Another research by the British Medical Association (BMA) also discovered that doctors working in high-risk environments face the same problem in accessing the right PPE.
Surveying over 1,500 medics, the research found that more than half working in high-risk environments face a lack of face masks, while 65 per cent could not get adequate eye protection. A total of 56% felt pressured to work in areas involving higher risk of infection without proper protective gear.
“The quality of our eye protection and apron is useless. Some of the PPE provided feels like a tick-box exercise just for psychological reassurance,” a doctor was quoted as saying.
“I feel betrayed by the government who are not transparent enough to say that they do not have the ideal supplies and therefore are asking us to put ourselves in harm’s way with suboptimal protection,” added another doctor.
But the government’s recent efforts, including the Public Health England’s revised PPE and the National Health Service (NHS)’s work to provide enough kits to the frontline, have made an impact, said the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).
“Things are much better than they were a week ago. People on the ground are saying that it’s getting better, though there are still some distribution issues within hospitals,” said Dr Andrew Goddard, president of the RCP that represents mainly hospital doctors in England.
“In a survey we ran last week, 22 per cent of staff said they didn’t have access to the PPE they needed.
“That is adding to the anxiety and emotional challenge of working in these settings, as working on Covid wards is a scary situation. That 22 per cent needs to become 0 per cent as soon as possible,” he added.