GPs have hit out after receiving PPE aprons made out of repurposed polythene bags.

Practices in the Highlands, Fife and the Borders are among those sent batches of white aprons in relabelled boxes, which had previously been labelled for "white tint polythene bags".

The Scottish Government said the boxes had been "mislabelled" and the "items in question are PPE, not bin bags".

A spokeswoman stressed that they "fully comply with all regulations and have passed rigorous quality assurance".


Jagged marks are reportedly visible around the seams of some of the aprons, suggesting scissors have been used to cut arm holes in the polythene to turn them into PPE aprons.


Hospital doctors in parts of England are understood to have received similar supplies earlier this year.

In June, bosses at Southmead Hospital in Bristol had to recall a batch of PPE aprons after staff complained they were little more than "bin bags with the bottom cut off them". 

One Highland GP said her own practice had received a box where the polythene bag label was covered over by another label reading 'white aprons'.

She said she knew of at least two other practices in the region who had also received the same supplies.

She added that even if they were "not bin bags per se" they were "still unsafe". 


A BMA Scotland spokeswoman said: “Clearly this has caused concern to those who have received this PPE.

"We are urgently bringing this to the attention of the Scottish Government/Chief Medical Officer, to seek the clear assurances required – in line with the commitment made by the Cabinet Secretary to address any concerns our members have over PPE.”


Nurses United UK, who campaigned for PPE back in March, said the aprons were putting frontline NHS workers at risk.

Anthony Johnson, lead organiser for the group, said: “Once again our frontline workers can’t get the bare minimum of proper equipment to keep themselves safe – this is disgusting.”

One Twitter user, whose profile says she is an emergency doctor with a degree in infectious diseases, said the design was "dangerous" because it could only be removed - or 'doffed' - by pulling the apron over the user's head, potentially exposing their nose and mouth area to viral contamination. 


GPs commenting on Twitter described the supplies as "a joke" and a "national scandal", adding that it "shows how much we are valued".

Another emergency doctor added that "you can't doff them without contaminating your clothes".


Dr Iain Kennedy, a GP in Inverness and the Highland Local Medical Committee Secretary for BMA Scotland, said his own practice was among those to receive the aprons this week. 

He said he did not believe they necessarily posed an infection control danger however.

He said: "They are a bit undignified (and tight at the shoulders) but probably do the job as well as the other ones."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are aware of a small number of comments on social media around PPE provided to a doctor, which was mislabelled.

"We can confirm that the items in question are PPE, not bin bags. Among the half a billion PPE items supplied to date, this is a rare instance of mislabelling and National Services Scotland (NSS) continue to urgently work with supply partners to remedy these as swiftly as possible.

"We have spoken with NHS NSS who have confirmed that all items, including these ‘smock-style’ aprons, fully comply with all regulations and have passed rigorous quality assurance.

“To secure unprecedented quantities of PPE in support of our national response to COVID-19, NSS National Procurement secured aprons from a range of accredited manufacturers. 

"These vary in style and design but all of them have passed rigorous quality assurance. Independent testing has confirmed that they all provide the required level of protection for the settings in which they should be used.

“The National Procurement Division of NSS continues to work 24/7 to source and supply the PPE Scotland needs to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and has successfully sourced and supplied almost half a billion items of PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic.”