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  3. Anaesthetists’ union backs medics refusing to treat patients

The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCA) has emphasised the importance of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) in the battle against COVID-19 by saying it will support any medic who refuses to treat a patient as a result of unavailable safety gear.

In a statement to The Independent, Nottingham University Hospitals Trust professor Ravi Mahajan said the union will back any anaesthetist who concludes that they cannot safely treat a coronavirus patient due to a lack of available PPE, provided they have “made all the efforts they reasonably can”.

The statement comes amid new guidance from Public Health England for doctors to re-use respirators only designed for one use, with Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) President Claudia Paoloni expressing concern that medics are being asked to jeopardise their own lives as part of their duties. Paolini has criticised the advice, accusing the UK of relying on emergency supplies rather than providing adequate equipment and thus increasing the risk of cross-contamination.

No doubt adding to the concerns of anaesthetists will be the ongoing delays to a shipment of PPE from Turkey that was due to arrive in the UK on Sunday, April 19. UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick had said that more than 80 tonnes of protective gear would arrive on Sunday, but Turkish sources say that a formal request for PPE assistance had not even been made until Sunday. As of Tuesday morning, the RAF plane sent out to deliver the supplies had yet to leave the runway in Turkey, according to The Telegraph.

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