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

Saanich mayor joins fight to protect local wildlife from rat poisoning after second owl dies

Mayor Fred Haynes to meet with provincial, federal pest control industry representatives

Greater Victoria writer releases first novel inspired by U.S. school shootings

Dear Mr. President tells thought provoking story of victims left behind

Sidney fire responds to fewer but more severe calls during pandemic

Rise in severity linked to changes in routine during COVID-19 pandemic

Saanich police see spike in excessive speeding compared to previous years

Nearly 100 excessive speeders caught since January 2020

Colwood branch drop-off to continue throughout summer

COVID-19 safety measures remain in place

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

Most Read