The Indian-born chief of a major UK medical association has warned the government that medical personnel fighting the coronavirus pandemic in the country's National Health Service (NHS) hospitals are at risk of continuing protective equipment (PPE) due to continued staff shortages ).
Dr. British Medical Association (BMA) Council President Chaand Nagpaul also urged the authorities to urgently investigate the factors behind the "disproportionate" number of black and ethnic minority (BAME) deaths among the leading victims of the deadly virus .
"This is not the flu. We are dealing with an unknown, highly infectious and potentially fatal virus that has killed several healthcare workers, including 11 UK doctors," said Dr. Nagpaul in a statement released by BMA on Friday.
"It is absurd that people who have been trained to treat this disease are not being adequately protected – and without them we face a real catastrophe," he said.
The BMA said it had learned that PSA supplies, including aprons and face masks, were at dangerously low levels in London and Yorkshire and that some items of equipment were no longer available, which forced doctors into "impossible situations".
"The government is therefore forcing doctors to put themselves and their patients at great risk by expecting them to treat Covid-19 patients without adequate PSA. The evidence comes just two weeks after the government said it had plenty of PSA and that equipment flowed to trusts, "said the BMA.
According to a recent survey by the union, more than half of doctors working in high-risk environments said either insufficient or insufficient face masks were available, while 65 percent said they had no access to eye protection.
In addition, 55 percent said they felt "pressured" to work in a high-risk area even though they did not have adequate PPE.
"No doctor should ever be in danger when he goes to work, and it has never been so important in these unprecedented times," said Dr. Nagpaul.
"This is an immensely difficult position that is ultimately due to the government's chronic failure to provide us with the right equipment. We cannot continue like this and need to provide enough adequate PPE for employees across the country, not just for our health, but especially for our patients. "
While it remains unclear whether the lack of PSA is directly related to the registered deaths of doctors in the UK, the BMA Council President also called for measures to assess the factors behind the large number of BAME doctors and nurses among the victims of the virus.
"We have heard that the virus does not discriminate between individuals, but there is no doubt that BAME patients and doctors have an apparent disproportionate level of infection.
This needs to be addressed – the government must act now, "said Dr. Nagpaul.
The BMA intervened days after the British Association of Indian Doctors (BAPIO) wrote to England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and NHS England Medical Director, Stephen Powis, and requested all official data on Covid Has. 19 hospitalizations for an in-depth study of the greater vulnerability of BAME and Indian-born patients who develop more severe symptoms of the coronavirus and die from Covid-19.
BAPIO said: "We need a better understanding of the problems of BAME mortality in the context of the general population, especially if it helps us manage sick and vulnerable groups, so that we can be accurate in our news."
"We therefore demand that the data for Covid cases and certainly for those who have died as a result of the disease include ethnicity, occupation and the usual demographic data."
Doctors of Indian origin, who make up a large part of the NHS workforce, are already among the victims of the deadly virus in Great Britain, including Gujarat-born cardiac surgeon Jitendra Kumar Rathod (58) from Wales and Hamza from Birmingham Pacheeri, 80, from Kerala.
BAPIO has also urged the authorities to send senior and retired medical professionals off the front lines until further evidence of Covid-19's ethnic variables can be gathered.
The UK Department of Health has said it works to protect all communities and has repeatedly pledged to improve PSA coverage for NHS medical personnel. UK Health Minister Matt Hancock said Friday that 742 million pieces of protective equipment have been delivered so far and daily deliveries will start next week.
"But there is clearly a major task ahead of us to maintain the flow and ensure that those who need it can maintain it," said Hancock.