Health officials must increase the amount of PPE being made available to GPs otherwise patients may be denied vital healthcare, it has been warned.
A Londonderry GP has spoken out after his practice had to borrow aprons from a neighbouring one when his surgery ran out earlier this week.
It comes as the number of patients attending GP surgeries begins to increase again as Northern Ireland moves out of the first Covid-19 surge.
Dr John O'Kelly from Aberfoyle Medical Practice said officials failed to provide adequate PPE going into the pandemic and it is essential that action is taken now to prevent a recurrence.
"From a GP perspective, we want people to know that we are open for business and surgeries are definitely becoming busier," he said.
"Prior to the pandemic we were able to put off routine appointments, such as blood tests to monitor patients with chronic conditions, and injections.
"However, we're getting to the stage where we can't do that anymore; the risk of not doing the tests or treatments outweighs the risk of coming into the practice.
"There are some patients that we can monitor remotely and we have been adjusting the ways that we work to keep patients safe, but in some cases it simply isn't possible and we need to see them face-to-face.
"In order to see more patients we need adequate levels of PPE, we have to treat every patient as though they have Covid-19, and there are currently limits on the amount of PPE that we're allowed to order.
"We ran out of aprons and we were left with a number of choices: either cancel all non-emergency appointments, continue services without the aprons, or get some from another practice, and thankfully Clarendon Medical Practice came to our aid." Dr O'Kelly, a former chair of the Royal College of GPs in NI, continued: "It's a very stressful time for everyone.
"It did get to the stage where PPE was a big problem. We had visors coming in from schools, which to me is a statement that this wasn't thought about.
"It's quite an indictment on Government, as they should have known a pandemic was likely to happen. Certainly, we've been talking about something like this happening all my adult life.
"I hope that the officials are now thinking of ways they can ensure GPs can access sufficient levels of PPE."
The number of people who are critically ill in hospital with Covid-19 is beginning to decline. As the number of new cases of the virus drops, health professionals are now looking at returning to their usual roles, with the amount of work being carried out in the community expected to rise as an increasing number of patients seek help for a range of non-Covid conditions.
However, official advice states that all patients must be regarded as being Covid-positive.
And as more turn to their GP for advice and treatment, the amount of PPE that is required to ensure the safety of staff and patients at GP surgeries will rise.
Health bosses were heavily criticised over the lack of PPE for healthcare workers in the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. In February, just days before the first confirmed Covid-19 case here, the Belfast Telegraph revealed GPs were still waiting to be fitted for masks.
Meanwhile, doctors launched a petition in protest over comments from the chief medical officer suggesting that GPs did not need masks to see non-symptomatic patients.
Concerns were also raised when it emerged that Northern Ireland had supplied 250,000 surgical gowns to England when they experienced a critical shortage of the vital PPE.
It is not known whether we received a replacement delivery of gowns.
A spokeswoman for the Health and Social Care Board said the issue is constantly under review.
"We would advise that all GP practices in Northern Ireland are able to order replenishment supplies of PPE items recommended in Public Health England guidance for use during direct patient care of possible or confirmed Covid-19 cases in the primary care setting, in an individual's own home, or in a community care home," she explained.
"This PPE is ordered from the Business Services Organisation (BSO) Procurement and Logistics Service and then delivered to practices in a timely fashion. We've been working with BSO to secure continued supply of PPE as face-to-face patient contacts continue to increase."