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Survey findings: PPE and testing during the COVID-19 pandemic

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have undertaken two surveys of UK surgeons and trainees. The results of our first survey, focusing on PPE and testing, were published on 12 April 2020. Our second survey, which ran from 23-28 April, aimed to gauge any changes within these areas and also ask surgical teams about their experiences of urgent and emergency surgery.

The key findings from this second survey are below. You can read more about the survey and access the data in this full report. You can also read our press release: Surgeons appeal to Boris not to soften lockdown criteria.

Key findings

Key findings

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

  • A third (32.8%) of surgeons and trainees surveyed across the UK did not believe they had an adequate supply of PPE in their Trust enabling them to do their jobs safely. 
  • When asked about which items of PPE they had personally seen shortages of in the previous two weeks, the most common responses were:
    - Full, long-sleeved, fluid repellent surgical gowns or fluid repellent coveralls (34.1%)
    - FFP2 or FFP3 respirator masks (30.5%)
    - Full face visors (28.8%)
  • Just over a third (35.2%) of respondents said there had been no shortages of PPE in their workplace over the previous two weeks. 
  • Over a quarter (26.6%) of respondents said that, in the previous two weeks, they were not confident that the PPE they had been provided with was FIT-tested to an adequate standard, enabling them to do their job as safely as possible.
  • 14.9% of surgeons and trainees said that in the previous two weeks they had been put under pressure to undertake procedures on COVID-19 positive, or suspected COVID-19 positive, patients without an appropriate level of properly fitted PPE. 

COVID-19 testing

  • A significant majority (80.2%) of respondents believed that testing should be available on a regular basis to all patient-facing NHS staff, even if they are asymptomatic.
  • Just 7.5% of respondents said that asymptomatic staff were being tested in their workplace, with 82.4% saying tests were reserved for those displaying symptoms.
  • Over half (52.4%) of respondents said that based on their own experience or the experience of their colleagues, they would be able to access a COVID-19 test at their workplace if they were granted one. 
  • On the basis of their own experience or the experience of colleagues, 60% of respondents believed they would receive the results of a COVID-19 test within 48 hours if they were granted one. 

Urgent and emergency surgery

  • A substantial majority (78.9%) of surgeons and trainees said that urgent and emergency surgery had been maintained at their workplace. 
  • The vast majority (83.7%) said that they were aware of guidance written by the Royal College of Surgeons of England and surgical specialty associations; our Clinical guide to surgical prioritisation during the coronavirus pandemic

Read the report in full or explore our COVID-19 information hub, research and resources


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