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Some respirator masks issued to staff may not be safe, government warns

Healthcare providers told to stop using certain FFP3 respirator masks, pending checks
Picture of FFP3 face masks with Fang Tian brand whose use has been suspended by the DHSC.

Healthcare providers told to stop using certain FFP3 respirator masks, pending standards checks

More than a million masks issued to healthcare staff may not meet safety standards, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has warned.

NHS hospitals and other care providers have been asked to suspend use of FFP3 respirator masks branded Fang Tian and supplied by Polyco Healthline until further notice.

DHSC says there are sufficient supplies of FFP3 masks

The warning about 1.2 million of these FFP3 masks, which have already been supplied to NHS organisations, was issued to healthcare providers via the

Healthcare providers told to stop using certain FFP3 respirator masks, pending standards checks

Picture of FFP3 face masks with Fang Tian brand whose use has been suspended by the DHSC.
Picture: Department of Health and Social Care

More than a million masks issued to healthcare staff may not meet safety standards, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has warned.

NHS hospitals and other care providers have been asked to suspend use of FFP3 respirator masks branded Fang Tian and supplied by Polyco Healthline until further notice.

DHSC says there are sufficient supplies of FFP3 masks

The warning about 1.2 million of these FFP3 masks, which have already been supplied to NHS organisations, was issued to healthcare providers via the NHS Central Alerting System. The FFP3 respirator masks are commonly used by staff working in intensive care to protect against COVID-19.

The problem with the masks is unclear, but the DHSC said they are being independently tested to see if they meet the relevant standards.

A DHSC spokesperson said there are sufficient supplies of other FFP3 masks to meet staff needs. ‘The safety of front-line staff and patients is our priority, and as a precaution we have issued advice to health and care providers to check to see if their stock includes this product, and to stop using these masks pending further investigation,’ they said.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee heard in early February that during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020, supplies of personal p[rotective equipment (PPE) had run perilously low, and items had to be reused or were not fit for purpose. It said the government needed to improve the management and distribution of equipment.

RCN says lower-grade face masks may not give adequate protection

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the problem with the Fang Tian FFP3 masks was another example of the government failing to supply adequate PPE for healthcare staff. ‘Ministers should apologise and ensure every penny for every piece of unusable PPE is recovered,’ he said.

The RCN has called for the government to provide all nursing staff with FFP2 and FFP3 respirator masks, amid fears that staff using lower-grade face masks are not being adequately protected from COVID-19.

Polyco Healthline has been approached for comment.


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