Government-procured PPE ‘is safe to use’, says NHS

03 September, 2020 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

Dentists in Scotland who received Government-procured personal protective equipment (PPE) marked as passed its use-by/expiration dates “can be assured those products have passed stringent tests that demonstrate they remain safe to use”, according to senior officials at NHS Scotland.

“We understand the concerns of dentists but we can reassure them in the strongest terms that the FFP3 respirators being supplied to allow them to continue their vital work treating patients are safe, rigorously tested and proven to be highly effective,” Paul Cushley, the Director of Dentistry, and Gordon Beattie, Director of National Procurement, at NHS National Services Scotland (NSS), said in a letter sent to NHS dentists yesterday.

It said: “National Services Scotland (NSS) is committed to providing Scotland’s dental community with appropriate PPE that is safe, rigorously tested and proven to be highly effective. We are equally determined to ensure that you have the reassurance that dentists and patients deserve.”

The letter provides detail on the type of PPE procured, its testing, and its use across the NHS since March, including within emergency and acute care and Urgent Dental Care Centres.

“Hundreds of thousands of this type of mask have been distributed to your colleagues across the NHS family and it has proven to be highly effective,” the letter states. “The manufacturer has confirmed that it is a legitimate practice to extend the life of an FFP3 mask and stated, ‘the owner of the products may choose to have them tested for continued efficacy’”.

It adds: “More than a dozen independent face-fitting professionals have been recently recruited to accelerate the face-fitting programme and further support dentists. Should dental practitioners consider they do not wish to use these products they can, of course, purchase their own alternatives.

“This will require dental practitioners to make arrangements for their own fit testing. In such circumstance the patients cannot be charged for these. It is noted that using alternatives also means the safety of patients and staff resides directly with the dental practitioner.

“NSS, in partnership with Scottish Government, has recently secured a sustainable long-term Scottish supply pipeline for FFP3 masks. There will be phased transition before the end of the year. In the meantime, we understand the concerns of dentists, but we can reassure them in the strongest terms that the FFP3 respirators being supplied to allow them to continue their vital work treating patients are safe, rigorously tested and proven to be highly effective.”

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