NHS told to stop using over a million masks issued to workers that ‘may not meet safety standards’

Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 10:31 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 10:34 am
More than one million face masks issued to NHS workers may fail to meet safety standards, the Government has warned (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

More than a million face masks issued to NHS workers have been withdrawn after it was found they may fail to meet safety standards.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has asked hospital staff to stop using a specific brand of FFP3 masks.

FFP3 masks are a type of respirator mask which have been recommended as personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses treating people with COVID-19.

However, the DHSC has asked hospitals to stop using a certain brand of these masks, as it may not meet its essential technical specification.

'Stop using these masks pending further investigation'

In an alert published on the Central Alerting System (Cas), the DHSC asked hospital staff to stop using the masks branded Fang Tian and supplied by Polyco Healthline.

The department also urged healthcare providers to immediately quarantine any stock of the product, adding that “following information received from the NHS, we are also seeking to confirm the origin of manufacture.”

The department said around 1.2 million of these high-grade masks had been distributed. This makes up around 4 per cent of stock held in frontline stores and about 1.7 per cent of masks that are used on a day-to-day basis.

A DHSC spokesperson said: "The safety of frontline staff and patients is our absolute 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.

"We have a resilient supply of FFP3 masks to ensure that health and social care workers have access to the PPE they need."

However, Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: “This is yet another example of ministers buying duff PPE that is inadequate for protecting our hardworking NHS staff.

“Ministers should apologise and ensure every penny for every piece of unusable PPE is recovered.”