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Shortage of PPE putting surgeons at risk

Doctors should not be coerced into risking their lives if there is a shortage of PPE, says the Royal College of Surgeons in response to the new PHE guidelines on PPE.

Instead of addressing the dangerous shortage of PPE, the guidelines are being changed to enable levels of protection to be reduced. This is unacceptable.



Professor Neil Mortensen, President-elect of the RCS, said:

“We are deeply disturbed by this latest change to PPE guidance, which was issued without consulting expert medical bodies. After weeks of working with PHE and our sister medical royal colleges to get the PPE guidance right, this risks confusion and variation in practice across the country."
It is utterly disgraceful that the new guidelines have been introduced without consultation of health care representative bodies.   Professor Mortensen continues: 


“The new guidance implies that, even in the operating theatre, surgeons and their teams may not require proper PPE. This is simply unacceptable. While we appreciate that waterproof laundered gowns may still be available in many operating theatres, the proposed alternatives to fluid repellent gowns or coveralls are wholly inadequate for an operating theatre environment.

“Theatres are high-risk areas where surgical teams are inevitably exposed. Like all doctors, surgeons are committed to their patients. We know many will put themselves in the firing line. However, if fluid repellent gowns or coveralls are not available, then surgeons should not risk their health.

“We must not forget either the desperate needs of thousands of patients who still require life-saving surgery - road accident victims, people with severe appendicitis or those needing urgent cancer operations. If these operations can’t go ahead, many will die. We are calling on the government to ensure that the depleted PPE supplies that remain, are used to maintain the most urgent and emergency services.”


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