CCGs are to provide fit testing for GPs and practice staff who have been risk-assessed as needing FFP3 masks, the BMA has said.
It comes as the Government’s PPE portal has now been updated to include FFP3 order limits for GP practices.
The portal said that practices with 7,999 or fewer patients can order up to 100 FFP3 masks per week free of charge, those with 8,000 to 29,999 can order up to 150 and those with 30,000 or more patients can order up to 200.
It reiterated that it is a ‘legal requirement on employers that FFP3 masks must be fit tested on all health and care staff who may be required to wear one to ensure an adequate seal or fit according to the manufacturer’s guidance’.
But the BMA’s latest GP Committee bulletin said that ‘CCGs have been informed that where risk assessments have shown it to be necessary, fit testing should also be provided by the CCG’.
GPs were previously told that they can access FFP3s via the Government’s PPE portal if practices have ‘undertaken the necessary risk assessments and arranged for staff to have been fit tested before ordering the equipment’.
It comes as updated IPC guidance last week suggested that GPs treating patients with a ‘suspected or confirmed’ Covid infection must wear an FFP3 mask.
This was is in direct contrast with NHS England advice to GPs last week that they should not routinely wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE) such as FFP3s or FFP2s in primary care.
UKHSA and NHS England jointly manage the IPC guidance, along with Public Health Wales and the Northern Ireland Public Health Agency.
It followed BMA advice last month that GPs should wear FFP2 face masks ‘as default’ when consulting patients face to face to protect against the highly-infectious Omicron Covid variant.
The BMA has published preliminary guidance around how to risk assess which type of face mask is needed, including both FFP2s and FFP3s, with more to follow.
The Government recently announced that it will extend its free PPE provision scheme for GPs for a further 12 months, until March 2023.
Meanwhile, the BMA has advised practices they should tell patients that wearing a face mask on the premises is a ‘legal requirement’ if a risk assessment suggests masks should be worn.
This story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.