Doctors who refuse to work without PPE must not face tribunals if patients come to harm, defence body says

Doctors should not face investigation if they refuse to see patients due to lack of PPE, their defence body has said. 

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) issued the plea after a survey of more than 2000 doctors found a third of those treating patients in high-risk settings still lack the protective gear.

The death toll among frontline health and care workers has now surpassed 100.

The defence body said that if medics decide they cannot safely see a Covid-19 patient because they do not have adequate PPE, they should not be held personally accountable by their employer or the regulator.

The MPS said seeing patients without access to proper masks and gowns could risk spreading the virus, as well as personal harm to medics. 

The body called on the General Medical Council (GMC) and NHS employers to provide “urgent reassurance” that medics would not be subjected to regulatory or disciplinary action if the patients they refused to treat in such circumstances came to subsequent harm.

Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at MPS, said: “It is appalling enough that doctors are placed in the position of having to choose between treating patients and keeping themselves and their other patients safe – this stress should not be compounded by the prospect of being brought before a regulatory or disciplinary tribunal. 

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