A GP has criticised the quality of personal protection equipment (PPE) supplied by the Scottish Government to help shield medical staff from Covid-19, calling it “inferior”.

Dr Anne Fraser of the Mistylaw Medical Practice in Lochwinnoch was issued with 50 paper masks, a roll of aprons and some goggles in early March but contacted the health minister with concerns after Jeane Freeman said publicly that all GPs would receive full PPE kits to help them stay safe when treating suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases.

“What we’ve been issued with is flimsy goggles that don’t seal and thin aprons like plastic bags. I wasn’t happy with that. We’ve been trying to source what we can to protect ourselves fully.”

Initially Dr Fraser and colleagues were issuing staff with waterproof milking aprons to wear underneath the government-supplied kit before purchasing disposable overalls and goggles that seal onto the face from hardware stores.

Staff had even resorted to wearing ski masks and swimming goggles to protect themselves

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After emailing the health minister, Dr Fraser received a reply from an aide that left her “disappointed”.

In her reply she wrote: “Yes we received our equipment as listed. However most GPs feel it is inferior for the intended use.”

She told The Herald: “We need to be protected to do our job properly and also to stop transmission to our staff and if we pick up the virus and are unaware of it, we don’t want to take it back to our families.

“Since I sent the initial email I now know what colleagues in hospitals and other GP practices are saying - they’re running out of stuff, they’re not getting the full kit, they’re wearing the same mask between different patients.”

Although most patients are now triaged over the phone, the medical staff at the GP practice, and a second surgery in Beith, are coming into contact with the elderly and people with underlying health issues and the key issue is, Dr Fraser said, that “you don’t know who is infected and who it not.”

She said: “You’re hearing about doctors in England and Wales getting sick. The thing is when you’re dealing with the same condition time after time throughout the day, you get a virus overload. The more you’re being exposed to it, the more you are at risk, which is why you need better protection.”

Her fear is losing staff to infection and not being able to continue caring for patients. At the Beith practice, district nurses were forced to work with no masks after not being issued with any PPE.

“They’re feeling vulnerable. They’re going out into the community doing dressings, assessing sick people and they’ve got no protection.

“We care about our patients and want to do the best by them and we will do that but give us the stuff that we need.

“We’re not going to be able to provide the service if we are not protected.”

Despite issuing clear information via their Facebook page, Dr Fraser is concerned that people are not following the social distancing guidelines closely enough.

She said: “People need to stay at home, stay away from people. Nice weather’s not a reason to go out.

“At the moment we’re on the same trajectory as Italy and that’s our concern. We’re going to get overwhelmed.

“When you see that even the frontline are now wearing masks and gloves and aprons but they should be fully protected.”

A senior figures in the NHS has pledged that distribution of the personal protective equipment needed by frontline health professionals dealing with Covid-19 will “get better over the next few days”.

Jason Leitch, the national clinical director of healthcare quality and strategy, insisted there was sufficient supply of items, amid concerns that not all medical and care workers who need such items have been provided with them.

However he said the distribution of such items had been “challenging”, as the health service tries to get protective equipment out to more people than normal.

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Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said that the coronavirus pandemic had come “on us really fast”.

Mr Leitch said: “I know there is enough supply, the distribution has been challenging, because we’re adding in new places, we’re adding in care homes, we’re adding in community pharmacies.

“We’ve not had to do regular PPE transmission to those places before, so that is causing some individual challenges around the four UK countries.

“The third thing is we have to train, particularly the high-end people, the intensive care nurses and those we are training up to help us in intensive care, to know how to work these masks.”

He told how the most protective “high-end” masks were “uncomfortable” for staff to wear, saying: “I have worn them in theatre and they are not fun, they are sore over a long time”.

He also stressed that “you have to make sure the fit is right, so you have to be trained in how to do it for yourselves and also how to help others”.

Mr Leitch said: “I am confident that the beginning of that supply chain is robust and now the distribution will get better over the next few days.”