Samantha Batt-Rawden, president of the Doctors’ Association UK, said: “It is not acceptable to be using gowns which are not fluid-repellant, or indeed rely just on flimsy plastic aprons and hope for the best. Our own data from 1,500 doctors across over 250 sites suggests that just 25 per cent of respondents have access to proper long-sleeve gowns, and this trend is getting worse.”
Doctors and nurses may need to wear plastic aprons over patient gowns to treat coronavirus patients amid a shortage of essential protective equipment, as the health secretary admitted that he had not been comfortable with initial advice on what they should wear.
Hospitals are expected to run out of gowns this weekend, and Public Health England issued guidance last night on how to tackle the shortages. It said disposable waterproof gowns should be reserved for only the most high-risk procedures on Covid-19 wards.
If none were available, it said “disposable non-fluid repellent gowns or coveralls” with a plastic apron were the best alternative, followed by reusable washable gowns, lab coats or industrial coveralls — or patient gowns — with plastic aprons. In both those cases it recommends “forearm washing once gown or coverall is removed”. The advice, it said, had been agreed by the Health and Safety Executive due to “exceptional circumstances”.