A SCOTTISH doctors leader has made an appeal for more protective equipment for staff to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The British Medical Association has written to Boris Johnson appealing for the personal protective equipment needed to "stay safe" while appeals have also gone to Nicola Sturgeon.

"They need to ensure we have the PPE (personal protective equipment) we need to stay safe," said Dr Lewis Morrison, chairman of BMA Scotland in a message to health staff.

It comes as Doctors Association chairman Dr Rinesh Parmar said NHS staff treating coronavirus patients feel like “lambs to the slaughter” as calls for more protective clothing to shield medics intensified.

He said doctors and nurses are still not getting the equipment they need and feel treated like “cannon fodder” in the UK’s fight against the disease.

Dr Morrison said there are two key issues which are yet properly sorted - PPE and staff testing.

"Appropriate and effective personal protective equipment (PPE) must be available today, tomorrow, next week and for some considerable time to come," he said.

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"We need certainty about the supply of that from government and health boards. And we need it both in general practice and in hospital. Doctors and other staff must be able to do their job safely to minimise the number of us who will get ill and cannot work. But mainly to limit the number of us who might get very sick indeed."

He said the situation appeared to vary from health board to health board in terms of what and how much PPE is available, and how long supplies might last. "Questions about fitting and appropriateness of what is available are also common," he warned.

"What is clear is that we need to have a consistent approach for those working on the frontline and beyond."

He said that the Scottish Government does understand the importance of testing frontline healthcare workers, to allow those who are self-isolating to get back to work if they test negative.

But he also said "crucially" to give people reassurance for themselves and their families, they also need clarity on testing for the family members of healthcare workers – "as again this is crucial for peace of mind and to allow those who can to get back to work".

He added: "Clear commitments have been made by the First Minister that testing for staff will happen as soon as possible and in a way that is easily accessible. We have heard of increased testing for staff in some health board areas but the rollout of that is patchy and it needs to be much quicker."

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In a message to doctors in a blog he added: "These two issues affecting you right now are our top priorities but there are many more for us to get clear answers on, and urgently.

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"I know many of most of you will have had an extremely busy, pressing and tiring time preparing for and dealing with the implications of the COVID19 pandemic. All of us are worried for our patients, our families and ourselves.

"For all of us, the priority is to ensure the NHS is properly prepared for those who will need it over coming weeks and months for both those with COVID19 and all those who still need urgent care for all the usual reasons.

"I want to assure you that my priority in my role as Chair of the BMA in Scotland is you. It’s your wellbeing and safety. It’s making sure you can go to work and get the job done in incredibly trying circumstances.

"We are working on a wide range of issues for the whole profession and especially those that you are highlighting. We have spent much of this last two weeks in detailed discussion with the Scottish Government on the many issues about how we will work throughout the pandemic.

"A huge amount of advice has already been published and decisions taken – in primary and secondary care. We supported the decision to defer rotation of some junior doctors in April. Steps have been taken to mitigate the increase in demand in General Practice."

Dr Parmar made a direct appeal to prime minister Boris Johnson for help.

He said: “We have had doctors tell us they feel like lambs to the slaughter, that they feel like cannon fodder. GPs tell us that they feel absolutely abandoned.

“We are all pleading with Boris Johnson that they really look into arranging the vital personal protection equipment that all of us need on the NHS front line.”

His plea came as a group of almost 4,000 NHS workers penned an open letter to the PM urging him to “protect the lives of the life-savers” and resolve the “unacceptable” shortage of protective equipment.

Saying medical workers were “putting their lives on the line every day” by treating coronavirus patients without appropriate protection, they called on the Prime Minister to ensure an adequate supply of masks, safety glasses, gloves, aprons and protective suits.