NHS England will provide GP practices with personal protective equipment (PPE) from this week, free of charge, Management in Practice’s sister publication, Pulse, has learned.
Under draft plans, practices would be provided with 300 fluid repellent masks, 400 aprons and 300 pairs of gloves as they work to limit the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
NHS England told Pulse that the final number of items is being determined, with a letter sent to practices yesterday.
They confirmed the supply is funded by the NHS and will be provided at no charge to the practice.
It comes as the Government announced that it is considering drafting in medical students to help the NHS deal with the Covid-19 outbreak.
A draft letter that has been circulated by some doctors, seen by Pulse, said: ‘GP surgeries should start to see a push of PPE to them via couriers this week.
‘They will receive:
1. 300 fluid repellent masks
2. 400 aprons
3. 300 pairs of gloves’
It added: ‘Larger practices will receive a second push once the first round is completed.
‘It has been confirmed that this supply is funded by the NHS and at no charge to the practice.’
Last month, Public Health England (PHE) advised GPs to wear face masks and other PPE if they are in contact with a patient with suspected coronavirus.
It followed a call from the BMA for NHS England to supply PPE to practices amid reports that the equipment was in short supply.
Under the Government’s coronavirus action plan released earlier this week, retired GPs may be called back to the workforce to tackle the pandemic, non-urgent care may be delayed and health professionals will have powers to detain people in quarantine areas if they suspect them of having the virus.
Some 90 coronavirus cases have now been announced in the UK.
The Government is preparing for a worst-case scenario where 80% of the population get the virus and one-fifth of the workforce is off work at the peak of the outbreak.