This month we have seen reports of a potential ‘national scandal’ following the supply of alleged faulty and re-dated masks to those working in the medical sector.

The BMA reports “if doctors and health and care workers have been supplied with, and worn, faulty, re-dated masks, this is clearly a dereliction of duty to ensure the safety of NHS staff and patients. Suggestions that these faults were known about in May, and yet action is only now being taken, are alarming”.

They go on to say “… nothing short of 100% fit for purpose PPE should have been supplied from the outset”.

The full article can be viewed on the BMA website.

The BMJ has further reported that BMA Council Chair Chaand Nagpaul has called for a “..cast iron guarantee that no faulty or out of date PPE is currently on the front line or in community care”.

That full article can be viewed on the BMJ website.

Practical Implications

Those working in the medical sector are now dealing with the news that they may have been using ineffective PPE. Clearly there will be great concern for those that have previously contracted Covid-19 in the course of their employment and also, a need for a guarantee that supplied equipment is safe and fit for purpose.

Employers may find that they will receive requests for assurances from their employees and questions about the testing of protective equipment before it was given to staff.

Legal Implications

In March this year, NHS England provided assurances that PPE provided had been tested and the equipment not up to standard was destroyed and not distributed. Medical staff were therefore using their equipment on the understanding that it was fit for purpose.

Questions will now be raised about what stringent tests were carried out on the PPE provisions and why some items were re-dated. Employees will also seek answers to why the additional tests carried out that led to the recall of some products, i.e. masks, were not carried out in the first place. For instance, it has already been widely reported that the Cardinal Health Surgical Type IIR mask has been recalled and no doubt, there will be countless medical staff that have worn such masks during the course of the pandemic.

Undoubtedly we will see employer’s liability claims from employees that contracted Covid-19 in the course of their employment. We have already begun to see enquiries of this nature as those working in the medical sector are understandably worried.

If you need assistance or advice you can contact Farleys on 0845 287 0939 or by email and one of our Litigation Solicitors will be happy to help you.