‘Abandoned’ doctors will leave field due to lack of protective gear, medics warn

An Emergency Department Nurse Credit: Michael Cooper/PA

Doctors will be forced to leave the profession during the coronavirus pandemic due to a lack of protective equipment, the head of a medics group has warned.

Amid fears over NHS staff shortages, the head of the Doctors’ Association UK said existing staff may feel forced to leave because they do not have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely treat Covid-19 patients.

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

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.

Many doctors and NHS workers have expressed concerns about lack of equipment Credit: Jonathan Brady /PA

“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.”

For healthcare workers providing treatment to Covid-19 patients, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a medical mask, gown, gloves and eye protection.

However, 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.

Soldiers delivered facemasks to a London hospital on Tuesday as part of increased efforts to deliver PPE Credit: Dave Jenkins/MoD

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.

He said that 7.5 million pieces of protective equipment, including face masks, 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.”

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 group, which describes itself as a campaigning and lobbying organisation and represents more than 29,000 UK doctors, previously said that less than 1% of doctors surveyed felt the NHS was prepared for a coronavirus outbreak.

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