Doctors 'will be forced to leave NHS' over lack of coronavirus protection gear

25 March 2020, 00:42

Doctors need protective equipment or may leave the profession, medics have warned
Doctors need protective equipment or may leave the profession, medics have warned. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Health professionals will be driven out of the NHS if they do not have adequate protective equipment, medics have warned.

Chairman of the Doctors' Association UK Dr Rinesh Parmar said some staff may feel forced to leave because they do not have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely treat Covid-19 patients.

He told The Guardian: "The longer this epidemic goes on for, if doctors feel that there is a widespread lack of personal protective equipment, then some doctors may feel they have no choice but to give up the profession they love because they feel so abandoned by not being given the PPE that the World Health Organisation recommends.

"That's the travesty of this situation - that the Government needs to protect frontline health workers and in return they will give 100%.

"But the Government hasn't kept its side of the bargain with NHS staff by not having enough PPE available to safeguard the health of doctors and nurses."

Dr Parmar issued bis warning warning as the Government urges recruitment of medical staff, including asking those who have recently left to return to help cope with the pandemic.

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The Army delivered protective equipment to St Thomas's Hospital in central London earlier today
The Army delivered protective equipment to St Thomas's Hospital in central London earlier today. Picture: DefenceHQ
Soldiers unpack protective equipment
Soldiers unpack protective equipment. Picture: DefenceHQ

So far, 11,778 have signed up to re-join the ranks of NHS staff working tirelessly to treat people who fall ill during the pandemic.

5,500 final year medics and 18,700 final year student nurses will also take up their posts within the NHS this week in an effort to boost support for the health system.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said any healthcare professional who treats a patient with Covid-19 should have a medical mask, gown, gloves and eye protection.

But the agency noted there is an international shortage of PPE, particularly masks and respirators.

Dr Parmar's comments come after Matt Hancock promised a "military effort" to get equipment to health and social care workers.

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On Tuesday, the Health and Social Care Secretary announced that a new hotline had been set up that staff can call if they are running low on supplies and 7.5 million pieces of protective equipment had been shipped out to frontline workers in the past day.

During the daily Downing Street briefing on coronavirus, Mr Hancock said: "Many, many people across the NHS are asking for more personal protective equipment (PPE).

"If people are working on the frontline to look after us, it is vital that we look after them."

He also launched an urgent campaign to recruit 250,000 volunteers to work for the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Parmar previously said some doctors had felt like "lambs to the slaughter" and "cannon fodder" while they were treating patients with the virus without the recommended PPE.

The Doctors' Association UK, describes itself as a campaigning and lobbying organisation and represents more than 29,000 UK doctors.

It has previously said that less than 1% of doctors surveyed felt the NHS was prepared for a coronavirus outbreak.