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GMC responds to BAPIO query re Refusing to see patients without appropriate PPE

What should I do if I think my personal protective equipment (PPE) is
inadequate?

Guidance on the use of PPE has been issued jointly by the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health Wales, Public Health Agency Northern Ireland, Health Protection Scotland and Public Health England. Doctors should follow the guidance, which covers a range of infection
control measures including hand hygiene and respiratory and cough hygiene, together with advice on appropriate PPE and best practice guidance.

Employers and contracting bodies should take all necessary steps to make sure staff are suitably equipped (for example, with protective clothing).

If suitable equipment isn’t immediately available, difficult decisions may need to be made quickly about the safest and best course of action, taking account of clinical guidance. Factors to consider would include:

• whether treatment can be delayed, or provided differently (e.g. remotely)
• whether additional steps can be taken to minimise the risk of transmission
• whether any doctors are at a higher risk from infection than other colleagues
• what course of action is likely to result in the least harm in the circumstances
You should try to work with colleagues to find the best way forward in the circumstances. We don’t expect you to provide care without regard to the risk to yourself or others. If you think that you and other healthcare staff may be put at risk by insufficient or inadequate PPE, you should raise your concerns with your employer.
You should make a record of your decisions and how you handled your safety concerns. If a concern were raised with us about a doctor refusing to see a patient because of their
concerns about inadequate PPE, we would need to look at the specifics and manner of that refusal (as we would with any other concern referred to us).

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