Heart attack victims have lost their lives because doctors are still obliged to put on full Covid-protection equipment before resuscitating them in hospitals, The Mail on Sunday has been told.
Doctors at a leading health trust in London say that valuable time is being lost when patients go into cardiac arrest as doctors struggle to put on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Although the guidance from Public Health England (PHE) is that they 'strongly advise that there is no potential delay in delivering this life saving intervention' for Covid reasons, it is still left to 'Healthcare organisations [to] choose [whether or not] to advise their clinical staff to wear FFP3 respirators, gowns, eye protection and gloves when performing chest compressions'.
This newspaper also understands that some doctors have even faced disciplinary action for administering CPR to save patients' lives without first putting on full PPE.
Doctors at a leading health trust in London say that valuable time is being lost when patients go into cardiac arrest as doctors struggle to put on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (stock image)
A doctor at one London trust said: 'It takes between one and two minutes for us to put on the PPE and that can be the difference between life and death'.
Last night, Tory MP Marcus Fysh said it was 'quite wrong' to implement the restriction.
Mr Fysh said: 'If everyone's vaccinated among hospital staff anyway, then it isn't a material risk to those staff in any sense to be interacting with a patient who has Covid. That's what the statistics tell us. So I think it would be quite wrong to insist that a doctor who wanted to perform CPR couldn't do so because they weren't wearing the PPE.'
And Tory MP Alicia Kearns said she will raise the 'lunacy' of the policy with the Health Secretary. She told The Mail on Sunday: 'No doctor wants to lose a patient. I find it hard to believe that any Trust would instruct their doctors who are fully vaccinated to potentially cost the life of a patient.'
A doctor at one London trust said: 'It takes between one and two minutes for us to put on the PPE and that can be the difference between life and death' (stock image)
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PPE rules are made at Trust level, according to the Resuscitation Council, based on advice it and PHE has issued.
In a statement on the issue published exactly a year ago, the Resuscitation Council advised medics that full PPE should be worn during CPR, an approach it described as 'pragmatic'.
It did, though, stress the need for speed in delivering care, saying: 'A rapid response provides the best chance for survival.'
But the statement advising full PPE was made before the NHS had administered a single jab in the highly successful Covid vaccination campaign, either to the public or health staff. Last night the Resuscitation Council confirmed its safety-first position has not changed – but said medics could work within the guidance to give patients the best chance of survival while protecting themselves from Covid.
A spokesman said: 'We continue to monitor the situation closely and regularly review our Covid-19 resuscitation guidance to ensure that we consider any new or emerging evidence in this area as well as Covid infection rates and vaccination rates.'