Government insists surgical masks sent to GP practice staff are safe

Some practices took to social media to claim products are ‘out of date’

Product with new expiry date sticker placed over 2016 date. Picture: Matt Mayer, @alwaysthedutydr (via Twitter)

The government has insisted that personal protective equipment (PPE) issued to primary care staff in England is safe, after some GP practices reported being sent equipment that appeared to be out of date.

On Monday, a GP shared an image on social media of recently delivered boxes of face masks with 2021 expiry date stickers placed over 2016 dates.


Dear @MattHancock and @NHSEngland would you care to explain why you are sending boxes of 4 yr out of date surgical masks with fake best before dates to GP practices as PPE to "protect" us from #coronavirus ? I guess we really are expendable

— Matt Mayer (@alwaysthedutydr) March 16, 2020


The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said every piece of PPE supplied to GPs in England was safe to use, and will protect staff effectively if used correctly.

It said some GP practices were sent PPE that had its shelf-life extended in compliance with certified and independently tested practice.

Relabelling after stringent testing, says government

A DHSC spokesperson added: ‘The products that pass these stringent tests are subject to relabelling with a new shelf-life as appropriate, and can continue to be used.

‘All that are not up to standard will be destroyed.’

RCN professional lead for infection prevention and control Rose Gallagher said the college is seeking clarification regarding the supply of equipment.

She added: ‘If anybody has any concerns about the equipment they are being asked to use, they should raise their concerns locally [with their practice manager] in the best interests of themselves and their patients.’

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