Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. A recent survey by the Canadian Medical Association found most doctors who responded have not seen an improvement in the supply of personal protective equipment in the last month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Canadian doctors say they see little progress on improving PPE supply: survey

42 per cent had seen no change in the supply of gear such as masks and face shields in the last month,

The Canadian Medical Association has called for greater government transparency about the available supply of protective equipment in light of a new survey that suggests most respondents have seen no improvements in the last month.

Getting vital personal protective equipment, or PPE, to guard themselves against the virus has been a struggle for doctors across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent survey of nearly 2,500 doctors across Canada found 42 per cent had seen no change in the supply of gear such as masks and face shields in the last month, while 29 per cent felt the supply is now worse.

On the flip side, 22 per cent say there’s been some improvement to the PPE supply, but only six per cent say it’s been a significant change.

It’s the second survey of its kind the CMA has done since the pandemic began. The first survey captured doctors’ responses at the end of March, while this latest one is from April 20 and 21.

“We thought it might be better but, similar to the previous survey, a third of physicians were still fearful they were going to run out of PPE in a matter of days,” said CMA president Dr. Sandy Buchman.

The concerns were slightly more pronounced among community physicians compared to those who practice in hospitals, he said, which aligns with what he’s heard from members anecdotally.

PHOTOS: B.C. nurse and doctor marry early ‘just in case’ amid COVID pandemic

Doctors in Saskatchewan seemed to feel most strongly that the PPE supply had deteriorated in the last three weeks, with 45 per cent describing the situation as worse.

The uncertainty about the strained supply of PPE has been adding to worries around the pandemic, Buchman said, with about 96 per cent of physicians surveyed saying they were experiencing some level of anxiety.

Doctors are worried about becoming vectors of the virus and transmitting it to patients, getting sick themselves or, perhaps worst of all, passing it on to their own loved ones, Buchman said.

The vast majority, 88 per cent, said a greater supply of PPE would reduce their anxiety during the pandemic, and 68 per cent said having more information would help.

The federal government has provided public briefings about its ongoing orders for more masks, gowns, gloves and other protective equipment from a highly competitive market abroad, as well as efforts to retool domestic production.

READ MORE: B.C. has 50 new COVID-19 cases since Saturday, Bonnie Henry reports

Buchman said he believes the government is working incredibly hard to acquire what’s needed to fight COVID-19, but specific information about when those supplies will reach individual hospitals and practices has been lacking.

“It’s somehow not getting down to the grassroots,” he said.

Clear information about where the supplies are going, who will get them — and when — would go a long way to easing doctors’ anxieties, he said.

The survey did show some minor improvements.

Across the country, 33 per cent of those who responded to the latest survey said they would have enough surgical masks to last at least 10 days, compared to only 20 per cent three weeks ago. Doctors reported similar improvements for supplies of gloves, gowns, face shields and N95 respirators.

A majority of doctors, 83 per cent, said increasing the level of testing for the virus would also allay their anxieties.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2020.

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusDoctors

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

White Rock council to attempt fully electronic meetings

Temporary policy will allow study of virtual options for conducting city business

Last chance to nominate for Community Leader Awards in Surrey

Annual awards event will be held online Nov. 23

Surrey FC’s arrival in BC Premier League brings high-performance soccer to Newton

The 12-member BCSPL also includes Surrey United, based at Cloverdale Athletic Park

Surrey’s ‘House of Horrors’ on hold, but Scream Train will roll in October

People react to Potter’s Facebook post with mixed emotions

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Costs climb to more than $100K for BC SPCA to care for animals in B.C. farm seizure

Eight puppies, of the 97 animals seized have now died from parvovirus enteritis

Chilliwack man, 31, in critical condition after altercation at Langley university

RCMP received a report of an ‘agitated man’ on TWU campus

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. VOTES 2020: Wilkinson to stop 24-hour camping in city parks

Ban on ‘unsafe roadside panhandling’ to be enforced

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Man pleads guilty to violent assault of elderly man in Abbotsford

Victim, 85, attacked while waiting at bus stop in November 2019

Lessons from a pandemic: How to design a nursing home that’s safe and love-filled

A look at how one care home is battling the pandemic with the social needs of the elderly in their care

Winter tires, chains now mandatory along most B.C. highways

Drivers without the proper winter tires – which must also be in good condition – can be fined $109

Most Read