The government has been accused of an “abject failure” over personal protective equipment (PPE) as new data has revealed more than half of doctors have had to source their own.
A survey of more than 16,000 doctors carried out by the British Medical Association (BMA) found that 48% reported having bought PPE directly or had a donation.
More than half, 55%, of GPs said they had been forced to do so, compared to 38% of hospital doctors.
BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the numbers represented an "a damning indictment of the Government's abject failure” to keep NHS workers safe.
Absolutely outrageous, they are working flat out protecting us in the #Coronavirus pandemic and yet they rely on donations or are having to buy their own PPE, no more excuses or prevaricating, they need PPE NOW! 😡 https://t.co/Gw1w2bMir7— 🌈 Angela Rayner 🌈 (@AngelaRayner) May 3, 2020
"The survey shows that overall, there has been an improvement in the provision of PPE,” he said.
“But if almost half of all doctors report that they had to resort to purchasing PPE themselves or rely on donations, then there is still a lot for the Government to do to protect its frontline."
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Grant Shapps described the PPE shortage as a “global problem” on Sunday morning and said getting enough PPE has been "enormously challenging" for the government.
He also claimed more than one billion articles of protective equipment had now been delivered.
But Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green Party, criticised Mr Shapps over his appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show - accusing the government of “ignoring expert advice” on PPE.
“Note to #Marr - please stop allowing Grant Schapps to pretend it was reasonable for the Government not to stockpile gowns because they were preparing for a different kind of pandemic,” Ms Lucas tweeted.
“There’s clear evidence that the government ignored expert advice - again.”
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “Absolutely outrageous, they are working flat out protecting us in the #Coronavirus pandemic and yet they rely on donations or are having to buy their own PPE, no more excuses or prevaricating, they need PPE NOW!”
Labour MP Rachel Hopkins also said: “It’s totally unacceptable that our government is failing to ensure enough PPE is available to protect our doctors and health workers tackling #Coronavirus.”
The BMA study also found almost a third of doctors in England said they had not reported or spoken out about issues relating to PPE because they didn’t think anything would be done about it.
Asked how safely protected from coronavirus they felt at work, 65% said they felt only partly or not at all protected.
More than a quarter of doctors said they were suffering depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, emotional distress or other mental health conditions related to or made worse by work during this time.