Coronavirus: GP given masks with expiry dates that have passed

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Dr Kate Jack in one of the masksImage source, Dr Kate Jack
Image caption,
Dr Kate Jack said doctors did not feel protected wearing the masks to treat patients

A GP has criticised the practice of giving doctors surgical masks with expiry dates that have passed.

Dr Kate Jack said doctors felt "like cannon fodder" after discovering the paper masks had expired in 2016.

A box delivered to her Nottingham surgery had a 2021 label placed over the original date of 2016.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said equipment underwent "stringent tests" and was given a "new shelf-life" where appropriate.

"I don't feel protected at the moment," said Dr Jack, a GP of 22 years.

"They are really not designed for prevention of infection and are practically useless.

"But they do give a message to patients to take this infection seriously if they see us with the masks, gloves and aprons."

Dr Jack, from the West Oak Surgery in Mapperley, said concerns had been raised by doctors nationwide who had received the same boxes.

Image source, Dr Kate Jack
Image caption,
The boxes were sent with a label placed over the original expiry date

"Even if they are safe to use we haven't been given much reassurance they are going to protect us," added Dr Jack.

"It is so frustrating.

"I know the government have a really difficult job and difficult decisions to make, but I feel like doctors are unappreciated and I'm wondering why I should bother putting my life on the line."

A DHSC spokesman said all protective equipment for GPs was safe and "would effectively protect staff".

He added that NHS Supply Chain and Public Health England worked with manufacturers to test products and consider extending their life.

"The products that pass these stringent tests are subject to relabelling with a new shelf-life as appropriate and can continue to be used. All that are not up to standard will be destroyed."

Another GP said it was "deceptive" not telling GPs about relabelling.

Dr John Hughes wrote: "Regardless of whether or not the masks have been reassessed as potentially still functional, this reflects an incredible arrogance and disregard for both clinicians and public/patient safety, as if inadequate, risk is as much to patients as to the doctors using them."

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