‘Don’t use Scottish Government supplied PPE,’ BDA advises

28 August, 2020 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

The British Dental Association has advised dentists in Scotland not to use stocks of free personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by the Scottish Government.

It comes in the wake of the “consistent failure by the authorities to provide robust evidence to support claims ‘revalidated’ face masks – some of which are well past their expiry date – are safe,” the BDA said.

Update 9 September: The BDA has written to the Public Dental Service apologising “for any anxiety our press release inadvertently caused.”

Concern over the PPE was first raised last week. Today, the association said that “despite repeated attempts to secure clarity”, NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) had “failed to provide categorical proof that expired masks have been robustly assessed”.

It said: “The information received by the BDA – including test certificates – does not provide firm proof that these masks are fit for purpose. None of the measures in the test certificate achieved a “pass”, and the manufacturer [3M] has not verified the material or provided clear reassurance that revalidated masks are safe to use.”

The association’s statement added: “Using masks which have passed their expiry date may present significant risks to patients, dentists and their teams. In the absence of firm evidence that these masks are safe to use, the BDA has advised its members not to use these masks and called on NSS to make alternative arrangements for supplying PPE to dentists.”

David McColl, Chair of the British Dental Assocation’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee said: “Dentists willingly donated their PPE to hospices, pharmacies and hospitals at the onset of this pandemic. In return the Scottish Government has offered us out of date masks, and no evidence they are safe to use.

“Sadly, our engagement with the authorities has generated more questions than answers. No dentist should use this kit until Ministers provide hard proof it offers needed protection to both staff and patients.”

Updated 29 August: The Times newspaper reports that “millions of protective masks sent to the health service’s front line after twice having their expiry dates extended are potentially unsafe, according to their manufacturer”.

The first check was carried out by 3M. The second approval, by Inspect, was published online by NHS Scotland but was removed last Thursday.

An email, seen by The Times, from Peter Hilton, a senior health and safety adviser at 3M, said: “We do not, typically conduct revalidation of respirators that have gone past their expiry dates as there is a risk that the media has degraded to the point where it no longer meets the required EN-approval.

“We have only granted life extensions once and that product has now gone past the final expiry date and we would suggest that it should no longer be used.”

Last May, Channel 4 News that 20.9 million of Britain’s 26.3 million pandemic stockpile of respirators were found to be out of date when the virus emerged in the UK.

Last month, it emerged that thousands of masks were destroyed by Scottish health boards after they were found to be disintegrating.

A spokeswoman for 3M said: “PPE owned, issued and used by the NHS is the sole responsibility of NHS Supply Chain, as is any independent testing undertaken by the NHS. Questions would need to be directed to the relevant owner of the product, ice NHS Supply Chain, working for Public Health England.”

A Department of Health and Social Care official said that stockpiled PPE is stored in optimal conditions and that face masks were the only equipment to have their expiry dates extended. “The respirators were retested and shown to meet safety standards,” he added. “The safety of all frontline health and care staff is always our top priority and any products that are not up to standard are destroyed.”

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