Doctors without PPE ‘bullied and shamed’ into treating patients

By Emma Bowden, PA

Doctors are being “bullied and shamed” into not wearing protective equipment during the coronavirus crisis, according an association.

The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) said one junior doctor had reported paediatricians attending deliveries of expectant mothers diagnosed with Covid-19 without wearing a mask.

The association, a doctor-led lobbying and campaigning group, says they had heard from frontline NHS staff who felt they had been bullied or shamed into not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) due to shortages, and some who were told to “hold their breath” instead.

DAUK has developed an app with Messly to collate anonymous testimonials of frontline NHS staff struggling during the pandemic.

A consultant in London, who had repeatedly asked for personal protective equipment (PPE) while seeing patients diagnosed with Covid-19, has now reported becoming unwell themselves, the organisation said.

Also in London, DAUK said a junior doctor had reported there had been “severe rationing” and “paediatricians attending deliveries with Covid-19-positive mothers in just a flimsy apron and no FFP3 mask”.

The group said the junior doctor had also said staff were resuscitating babies “without adequate protection”.

Meanwhile, a surgeon in the North West reported to the association that they had been operating on coronavirus-positive patients without an appropriate mask.

(PA Graphics)

DAUK said that over 500 reports were received on Sunday from 193 trusts and GP practices.

Their data found that 43% of doctors do not have any eye protection, some 72% do not have access to FFP3 (respirator) masks and 77% are without access to long sleeve gowns.

It also found some 60% have not been fit tested for masks.

DAUK president Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden said: “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.

“We are devastated, and can no longer stand by and and watch as more dedicated colleagues lose their life.”

Meanwhile, in a separate survey by the British Medical Association (BMA), one doctor called the quality of eye protection and aprons “useless”.

Another GP told the association they felt “betrayed” by the Government, who they accused of “asking us to put ourselves in harm’s way with suboptimal protection”.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA, said the “snapshot survey” revealed that frontline healthcare workers did not have enough protective equipment to keep them safe.

“Increasing numbers of healthcare workers are dying from Covid-19 in the UK, including four doctors, and it is frankly disgraceful that frontline staff are still expected to work unprotected,” he said.

“We must protect doctors so they can protect patients.

“The Government must get a grip on this situation now and give us cast iron assurances that each and every single doctor can be guaranteed access to PPE and be properly protected against Covid-19.”