UK doctors and nurses demand SAME protective gear used in US


Healthcare organisations representing nurses and doctors want the same quality of PPE used in the US to protect them from Covid variants in hospital.

A team-up of over 20 groups want stricter rules to combat the risk from infection through the air.

In an upcoming meeting with officials, which is to be held virtually, they will say the current PPE leaves them at risk from developing problems.

The group, who include the British Medical Association and Royal College of Nursing, will put the case to government heads responsible for PPE they should get the US masks.

In America the front line workers use N95 respirators – also known as FFP3 masks – which are effective in preventing aerosol transmission of the virus.

RCN acting chief executive and general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘We cannot give the virus any opportunity to spread if we have the means to prevent it.

Currently medics in the UK use the surgical-style masks as seen above on April last year

Currently medics in the UK use the surgical-style masks as seen above on April last year

This N95 respirators – also known as FFP3 masks - is the more favoured PPE and used in the US

This N95 respirators – also known as FFP3 masks - is the more favoured PPE and used in the US

This N95 respirators – also known as FFP3 masks – is the more favoured PPE and used in the US

Royal College of Nursing acting chief executive Pat Cullen will ask for the new masks

Royal College of Nursing acting chief executive Pat Cullen will ask for the new masks

Royal College of Nursing acting chief executive Pat Cullen will ask for the new masks

‘As we see new variants of concern emerge, we continue to demand FFP3 masks are made more widely available and increased levels of ventilation as a standardised approach.

“Along with many other organisations, we have consistently urged that the health secretary and prime minister provide greater protection for all nursing staff,’ she added to Nursing Times.

The issue of appropriate PPE for medics is a problem that has dogged the government since the pandemic began.

It has also been plagued by accusations of cronyism over how certain companies were awarded contracts to make the protective gear.

In November The National Audit Office revealed officials had signed contracts for hundreds of thousands of facemasks which turned out to be unusable – wasting hundreds of millions of pounds.

The then Business Secretary Alok Sharma had refused to apologise for the extraordinary spending and allegations of cronyism, claiming there was ‘huge pressure’ to get PPE for the NHS at the start of the pandemic and through the first wave.

A medics in one of the preferred masks working in New York during the pandemic

A medics in one of the preferred masks working in New York during the pandemic

A medics in one of the preferred masks working in New York during the pandemic

Workers at the Bloc Blinds factory in Magherafelt, where staff are currently manufacturing PPE, including face shields, for health workers fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic

Workers at the Bloc Blinds factory in Magherafelt, where staff are currently manufacturing PPE, including face shields, for health workers fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic

Workers at the Bloc Blinds factory in Magherafelt, where staff are currently manufacturing PPE, including face shields, for health workers fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic

He said: ‘We had to do an enormous amount of work very fast to secure PPE and that’s what we did, and I’m not going to apologise for the fact that quite rightly we made that effort’.

The NAO’s report looked at 8,600 contracts awarded by the Government between January and July. 

These were worth £18billion, of which £17.3billion were new contracts rather than contract extensions. Most of the money, £12.3billion, went on PPE, with the remainder going on other equipment and virus testing.

Ministers, MPs and civil servants could refer businesses to a ‘high-priority’ lane and firms which were granted this VIP access were more than ten times as likely to be awarded a contract as those in the ordinary lane. 

Leads came into a dedicated mailbox, but officials only recorded the sources in half of cases, although many were from ministerial offices following tip-offs from MPs about firms in their constituencies.

The NAO highlighted one £840,000 contract with Public First for focus groups and communications. 

The policy and research firm is owned by James Frayne and his wife Rachel Wolf, both of whom have previously worked for Michael Gove, the minister for the Cabinet Office. Miss Wolf co-wrote Boris Johnson’s 2019 manifesto.

The NAO said there was no evidence Mr Gove had been involved in the award, but ‘we found no documentation on the consideration of conflicts of interest’.

Mr Cummings’s association with Mr Frayne dates back to at least 2000, when they worked together on a campaign against Britain joining the euro. They also co-founded a Right-wing think tank.

The report discussed another potential conflict of interest in reference to Lord Agnew, a minister in the Treasury and the Cabinet Office. 

He owned shares in Faculty, an artificial intelligence firm given three coronavirus contracts worth £3million for data analysis.

Faculty worked with Cummings on the Vote Leave campaign in 2016. The firm also worked for Cummings’ company Dynamic Maps under a commercial contract in 2018 and 2019. 



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