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by Eleanor Philpotts
24 March 2020
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Every GP practice in the country has now received a delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE), NHS England has said.
It has also launched a PPE ‘hotline’ which GPs can call upon 24h a day if they require more PPE.
The measures come as doctors appealed to the Government over the weekend to urgently address the problem of PPE shortages.
In response, NHS England said it has sent PPE to over 200 NHS organisations – including GP practices – over the past three days.
‘Every GP practice, dental practice and community pharmacy has now had a PPE delivery,’ it said in a statement.
From this week, NHS England will receive help from the army to deliver PPE equipment where it is needed, with service personnel to make deliveries during weekdays, evenings and weekends.
NHS England added that it continues to work closely with the Government, NHS Supply Chain and others in the industry to ensure supply.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘In the face of this unprecedented global emergency, never has the need to bolster our workforce and arm them with the vital tools they need to save lives been more crucial.
‘We are taking urgent action to ensure dedicated frontline NHS and social care staff – who are working tirelessly to tackle this outbreak – feel supported. Today they are getting millions more PPE kits as part of that promise.’
Professor Keith Willett, medical director for acute care and emergency preparedness at NHS England, added: ‘The full weight of the Government is behind this to ensure supplies we need across the NHS are procured and delivered to replenish hospital, ambulance and community stocks.’
Last week, the Department of Health and Social Care said global demand for PPE and a ban on export of the products in China was causing constraints on securing additional UK supplies.
But Friday’s daily coronavirus briefing saw deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries declare that problems around protective equipment had been ‘completely resolved’.
Over the weekend, the Sunday Times carried a letter signed by nearly 4,000 frontline health professionals who voiced significant outstanding concerns regarding PPE availability.
And BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul echoed the sentiment in an appeal to the Prime Minister.
He said: ‘While we have been advised by Government that there are sufficient central stocks of the supply of PPE, the reality is that doctors on the frontline are experiencing shortages and many are extremely anxious over the adequacy of the equipment currently being provided to healthcare professionals.
‘At a time when we need our NHS more than ever, staff must be properly protected and should not be exposing themselves to high-risk situations where they could become infected – this could have a potentially devastating impact on our workforce capacity and effectiveness of our already stretched health service.’
Last week, the BMA said it had been informed of doctors visiting DIY stores and even building sites ‘in desperation’ to buy masks, as none were available where they work.