Doctors forced to shave beards to protect themselves from coronavirus – The Sun

Currently, staff must wear an FFP3 mask which stops 99 per cent of viruses through the nose and mouth, and undergo "fit testing" before dealing with patients.

Having facial hair could stop these from "sealing" properly, meaning they won't work.

Guidance from the NHS advised: "In order to be effective, FFP3 type face masks have to form a seal to the face.

"Beards, stubble and facial hair cause a common problem when using PPE face masks, as this can prevent the mask being able to seal to the face and passing the fit test."

They added that employers should "ask staff if they would be willing to be clean shaven to eliminate any risks".

Dr Craig Sheridan, a GP at Ipswich Hospital, told the Telegraph that he was forced to shave when entering the hospital.

He was told that he could not have "more than a day’s worth of stubble".

The NHS guidance stipulates that other "more expensive" options such as hoods could be supplied if medical staff are reluctant to shave, with reasons such as faith being stipulated – although add that this may not be feasible for busy wards.

Sameer Mallick, a 37-year-old ENT surgeon at the Royal Derby Hospital, explained that as a Muslim, he had not shaved his beard in 20 years.

Despite this, he opted to shave as it was "sensible" in the current climate, adding to the Telegraph: "All religions teach you that you have to save the lives of others and you have to do what it takes, so that's what I've done."

Head and Neck surgeon Dr Bindy Sahota, who is a Sikh, also shaved despite having not done so in 20 years, and said "very few" doctors are now seen with facial hair.

A leaked document last month, seen by the BBC, showed the London Ambulance Service considering mandating the no-facial hair rule.

However, the rules have not yet been officially enforced, with an internal email stating they would await guidance from the PPE before making any changes.

An e-mail sent round in February showed what facial hair was allowed, and what was not, if required to wear the masks.

Medical director Derek Sandeman, who drafted the diktat, attached a graphic showing 36 styles of facial fuzz.

Small growths that can fit under a mask, such as Hitler-style tach, the “soul patch” and “Zappa goatee” are marked as acceptable.

But those with a bushier look, such as “mutton chops”, the “Van Dyke” or “full beards” are told to shave.

The document, which added that those with a beard for religious reasons were exempt, explained: "I recognise for some this is a big ask, that beards are so popular at present. However I do believe this is the right thing to do."

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However, a shortage of protective equipment in the medical industry means,NHS nurses on the coronavirus frontline are being forced to buy their own aprons and treat patients without wearing masks.

The alleged supply shortage of vital protective equipment is said to be placing hospital staff under increased stress as the nation's nurses battle to care for sick patients.

One doctor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Sun: "I’ve never seen people afraid like this.

"We do not have enough protective equipment, and consultants are buying their own masks from Screwfix and Wickes, but even they have now run out of stock."

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