Doctors to Sue U.K. Over Advice to Reuse Gowns Amid Virus Threat

(Bloomberg) --

Doctors are preparing to sue the U.K. government over guidance to front-line NHS staff and social care workers on personal protective equipment.

Government advice to reuse some protective clothing goes against guidance from the World Health Organization and breaches health and social care workers’ human rights, Bindmans, the law firm representing the doctors, said in a statement Thursday.

The government has faced a number of complaints over the availability of PPE -- which includes face masks, goggles, gloves, and gowns -- since the cononavirus pandemic began. In April, amid reports of low supplies, Health Secretary Matt Hancock advised NHS staff to reuse protective equipment if necessary and wear aprons if gowns ran out.

Two doctors, Meenal Viz and Nishant Joshi, are leading the challenge. They sent an urgent pre-action letter to the government one month ago, but the government’s response didn’t address all of their concerns, the law firm said in a statement. After the government indicated they would miss their deadline for providing further information, the doctors instructed Bindmans to file legal proceedings as soon as possible.

“We asked simple questions one month ago, hoping for open dialogue,” the doctors said in the statement. “In that time, over 100 more healthcare and social workers have died. There is a human cost to this suffering.”

Bindmans said the government has refused to allow the law firm to publish their initial response to the pre-action letter. The Health Department declined to comment on the legal action.

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