100 DOCTORS ASK: why are we still prevaricating over face masks?
We are a group of more than 100 doctors, including nearly 20 who work in intensive care units, who are increasingly alarmed at official inaction over the need for the public to wear home-made face masks. Many other countries have already implemented such a policy.
There is a great deal of confusion about face masks. High-grade masks worn as part of PPE protect the wearer from Covid-19 and help to prevent the spread of infection to others. However, ordinary home-made masks worn by the public protect other people, not the wearer.
Official UK policy is illogical. It says wear a mask to reduce the spread of infection if you become symptomatic, but what about asymptomatic spread? The latest guidance on PPE says that people should wear masks in hospital waiting rooms “to reduce both direct transmission and environmental contamination”. Why not elsewhere?
The thousands of coronavirus mutual aid groups could make enough home-made masks for everyone, so it would cost next to nothing. Instructions are easily available, for example at masks4all.org.uk.
A government health education campaign is urgently needed to make it clear that masks are not a substitute for staying at home or social distancing, and that N95/FFP2/3 masks must be left for frontline NHS staff.
Dr Jonathan Fluxman GP; Professor Martin McKee CBE Professor of European Public Health; Professor Dr John Ashton CBE President of the Faculty of Public Health; Dr Laura McClelland ICU consultant; Dr Stanley Jose Consultant anaesthetist; Cllr Dr Helen Davison Public Health doctor; Dr Jane Mathieson Public Health Consultant; Dr Charles Tannock MBE Consultant Psychiatrist; Dr Angela Wilson GP; Dr Honey Smith GP and Honorary Senior Lecturer; Dr Helen Angel GP; Dr John Puntis Consultant Paediatrician; Dr Sian Ashby GP; Dr Rachel Cottam GP; Dr Finola O’Neill GP; Dr Iqbal Sram Consultant in Public Health; Dr David Kirby GP; Dr Pamela Wortley GP; Dr Rebecca Hall GP; Dr Jack Czauderna GP; Dr Gerard Reissmann GP; Dr Kambiz Boomla GP; Dr Pallavi Devulapalli GP; Dr Simon Kaye GP; Dr Frances Mortimer Medical Director Centre for Sustainable Healthcare; Dr Thabo Miller Paediatrician; Dr Coral Jones GP; Dr Anna Livingstone GP; Dr Ron Singer GP; Dr Jackie Applebee GP; Dr Lynne Jones Consultant Psychiatrist; Dr Nadia Audhali Paediatrician; Dr Tom Downs FY1 General Surgery; Dr Alex Scott-Samuel Public Health Physician; Dr Claire Bainbridge Medical Registrar; Dr Rebecca Hall GP; Dr Neil Stevenson GP; Dr Tom Riddington GP; Dr Zahid Chouhan OBE GP; Dr Ken MacLeay GP; Dr Huma Khan Hospital doctor; Dr Claire Sillitoe GP; Dr Ainie Choudhry GP; Dr Lesley Morrison GP; Dr Feisa Redford GP; Dr Kylan Stray GP; Dr Imran Ahmed Paediatrician; Dr Simon Ferris Public Health doctor; Dr Michelle Lau Physician; Dr Anna Kruczynska Physician; Dr Rosie Spooner Paediatrician; Dr Stefano Gelati Consultant Psychiatrist; Dr Niamh Gavin Consultant Anaesthetist; Dr Leah Gray Hospital doctor; Dr Cathryn Katz GP; Dr Bola Ogunleye GP; Dr Michael Goepfert Consultant Psychiatrist; Dr Kailash Chand OBE former deputy chair BMA; Dr Uzoma Uduku GP; Dr Chun Lok GP; Dr Dominika Murgasova Physician; Dr K Rajdev Paediatrician; Dr Akvile Nikitina Physician; Dr Fiona Brennan Anaesthetic Consultant; Dr Richard Hughes Consultant Anaesthetist; Dr Colin Hutchinson Consultant Ophthalmologist; Dr Jane Petterson Consultant Anaesthetist; Dr Sarah Plummer consultant anaesthetist; Dr Nick Barnes Child and Adolescent psychiatry; Dr U Barbara Bahlmann Consultant Anaesthetist; Dr Lise Hertel GP Clinical Director; Dr Nian Baban Anaesthetic Registrar; Dr Sharmila Khot NHS Consultant; Dr Kathryn Lloyd-Thomas Consultant Anaesthetist; Dr Laura McClelland ICU consultant; Dr Shuo Zhang Core Psychiatry Trainee; Dr Stanley Jose Consultant Anaesthetist; Dr Mohamed Lazizi ortho research and clinical fellow; Dr Sam Freegard GP; Dr Stuart d'Arch Smith Psychiatrist; Dr Sharon Raymond GP; Dr Ruth Simkins GP; Dr Rebecca Henleywillis GP; Dr Ann Shipley-Rowe GP; Dr Elizabeth Lidbury GP Sheffield; Dr Rachel Walpole Consultant Anaesthetist; Dr Jenna Stevens MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences; Dr Tan Mian Consultant Anaesthetist; Dr Naomi Katz GP; Dr Jennifer Swann GP; Dr Richard Roberts consultant Anaesthetist; Dr Tracey Haynes Consultant Anaesthetist; Dr Jonathan Bown GP; Dr James Rees ICU registrar; Dr Fiona Brennan Anaesthetic Consultant; Dr Monica Aquilina Emergency Registered Practitioner; Dr Lisa Racussen Consultant Psychiatrist; Mr Edgar Gelber Consultant Surgeon; Dr Helen Jarvis GP; Dr Helen Groom GP; Dr Louise Irvine GP; Dr Melissa Gladstone Consultant Paediatrics; Dr Anne Hayden GP; Dr Sara Churchill Consultant Anaesthetist; Dr Jane Margaret Orgee Consultant in General Medicine and Elderly Care.
Thank you to the following doctors who also signed the letter but their names arrived too late to be included in the letter to the Times.
Dr Andrea Dexter, GP; Dr Sophie Sakmann, paediatric registrar; Dr Graham Behr - Consultant psychiatrist; Dr Ciara Killeen, GP Principal; Dr Vishnu Machineni, Consultant Anaesthetist ; Jo Skinner GP; Dr Ian Haczewski – GP; Dr Vikran A consultant; Dr Sally Hall \GP; Dr MT Alban, GP; Dr Stefania Bonaccorso Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Stephen Lambert Researcher.