Last reviewed 24 May 2022

The British Medical Association (BMA) has published two reports: one on how well the medical profession was protected during the pandemic and one on the effect of the pandemic on the profession.

The first in a series of five reports, Covid-19: How Well-protected Was the Medical Profession?, explores whether the protection afforded to medical professionals was suitable and sufficient to counter the substantial risk to which they were being exposed.

Respondents to the BMA’s call for evidence cited a lack of infection prevention and control, including insufficient PPE and government messaging. The report said medical professionals on the frontline “often had to go without PPE, reuse single-use items, use expired PPE or use homemade and donated items”. Many also felt pressured to work without adequate protection with disparities in who felt able to speak out.

The survey found only 59% of ethnic minority doctors in general practice reported having full or adequate PPE compared to 77% of their white counterparts; and 31% of doctors in primary care felt risk assessments were mostly or completely ineffective.

It also found that many doctors were not risk assessed or their risk assessments were significantly delayed.

The second report, Covid-19: The Impact of the Pandemic on the Medical Profession, looked at how the pandemic has affected doctors’ physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, and to what extent adequate support was available. It said: “Death rates may have been lower, and the impact of illness and seeing death of colleagues mitigated, had doctors been better protected and supported by the UK Government and employers.”

It also found infection and mortality rates to be higher amongst ethnic minority doctors which, it said, “may in part be due to differential treatment by others”.

The report said the pandemic had a considerable impact on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the medical profession and that the impact on staff mental health worsened as the pandemic progressed.

The findings in the reports prompted BMA Council Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul to conclude that they show “unequivocally” that “the UK Government failed in its duty of care to the medical profession”.

Both Covid-19: How Well-protected was the Medical Profession? and Covid-19: The Impact of the Pandemic on the Medical Profession are available from the BMA website.