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Doctors at a leading health trust in London say that vital time is being lost by having to don the protective gear, even in a life-or-death situation. Public Health England (PHE) guidance advises against delaying a life-saving intervention.
Tory MPs called the measure “lunacy” and “quite wrong”.
A doctor at one London trust told the Mail on Sunday: “It takes between one and two minutes for us to put on the PPE and that can be the difference between life and death.”
The decision whether to put on PPE is made at an NHS Trust level, rather than being an NHS-wide policy or one handed down by the Department of Health.
PHE says that “strongly” advises that “there is no potential delay in delivering this life saving intervention” because of policies there to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in hospitals.
It is left to healthcare organisations to “choose [whether or not] to advise their clinical staff to wear FFP3 respirators, gowns, eye protection and gloves when performing chest compressions.”
The Mail on Sunday alleges today that some doctors have faced disciplinary action for administering CPR without putting PPE on first.
Marcus Fysh, a Conservative MP, commented: “If everyone’s vaccinated among hospital staff anyway, then it isn’t a material risk to those staff in any sense to be interacting with a patient who has Covid.
“That’s what the statistics tell us.
“So I think it would be quite wrong to insist that a doctor who wanted to perform CPR couldn’t do so because they weren’t wearing the PPE.”
Meanwhile, Alicia Kearns, another Tory backbencher, said she would raise the issue with Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary.
She added: “No doctor wants to lose a patient.
“I find it hard to believe that any Trust would instruct their doctors who are fully vaccinated to potentially cost the life of a patient.”
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In a statement published a year ago, the Resuscitation Council advised healthcare professionals to wear full PPE during CPR.
At the time, it said the approach was “pragmatic”.
Yet, it stressed the need for haste in delivering life-saving care: “A rapid response provides the best chance for survival.”
However, this statement was made before the UK’s vaccination programme had been rolled out – which began later in December last year.
The Resuscitation Council confirmed to the Mail on Sunday that its position on the matter had not changed, but said medics could work within the guidance to give patients the best chance of survival.
A spokesperson said: “We continue to monitor the situation closely and regularly review our Covid-19 resuscitation guidance to ensure that we consider any new or emerging evidence in this area as well as Covid infection rates and vaccination rates.”
When the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the UK last year, hospital staff were made to wear full PPE, including face masks, shields, aprons and gloves.
The Government had to contend with a worldwide shortage of PPE due to this increased demand.
It has since procured vast quantities of PPE for the health and care sector to use to continue to function during the pandemic, which it holds centrally.
In October, the Express revealed it would cost the sector an extra £800million if the Government were to end this service in March next year, compared to continuing it for another year.
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