The Doctors’ Association UK welcomes the publication of the Department of Health’s PPE strategy. We wholeheartedly support planning for PPE provision for a winter in which the NHS is likely to experience a second wave of COVID-19. However, DAUK does have some reservations regarding the information published.
Women and those of a BAME background have, in particular, experienced issues with appropriately fitted PPE. This represents the majority of NHS workers and these issues were raised in April 2020. However, 6 months later, this strategy promises a data gathering exercise rather than a concrete solution. A promised project to improve mask designs will not deliver in time to help women and those from a BAME background given that coronavirus cases are already increasing.
DAUK is also concerned that there is a lack of acknowledgement regarding the missteps taken in the early phase of the pandemic response. A cardinal rule in medicine is to analyse and learn from one’s mistake and therefore do not repeat the same again. Without accepting the mistakes made regarding the wastage of taxpayers money in purchasing of unusable PPE, coupled with a lack of transparency regarding the tendering of such contracts, the worry is that the same errors will occur, with front-line NHS staff suffering.
DAUK does welcome the concept of re-usable PPE, particularly concerning the environmental impact of such an idea. However, we would seek assurances that a robust process of decontamination and involvement of trained Public Health England staff to ensure its safety.