Doctors working in the riskiest areas of the UK’s hospitals with Covid-19 patients are finding it harder to get protective kit, despite ministerial pledges to solve the problem, research reveals.
The Royal College of Physicians has condemned the apparently worsening availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) as “truly terrible” and warned that frontline staff’s lives are at risk as a result.
Among doctors performing aerosol-generating procedures (AGP), in which patients with the disease release droplets from their mouth, 37% cannot always access a visor to wear while 31% have not been able to obtain a full-length surgical gown. Both are key elements of the full PPE NHS staff are advised to wear when participating in an AGP, such as a patient being intubated before being ventilated.
A survey undertaken by the college, to which 2,129 hospital doctors responded last week, found medics are finding it harder generally access to any sort of PPE. Just over a quarter (27%) said they could not get the kit they needed to keep them safe while treating people with Covid-19, up from 22% who said the same when the RCP conducted the same survey at the start of April.