Earlier in the week, the RCN called on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to investigate shortage of PPE available in UK hospitals.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have today said they are ‘satisfied’ with the government’s new guidance regarding the usage and supply of PPE in UK hospitals.
The nursing union had previously criticised the government for not supplying adequate levels of PPE (personal protective equipment), and had asked the HSE to intervene as health and care employers were “failing to follow statutory obligations in relation to the provision of PPE”.
In a letter to Sarah Albon, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the RCN’s Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dame Donna Kinnair, raised the issue of a lack of PPE for frontline NHS staff. She wrote:
“Nursing staff across the country are rising to the challenge of this unprecedented situation. RCN members are coming out of retirement, students interrupting their studies, and nursing staff are deploying from non-clinical settings, all to support the frontline in the battle against COVID-19 and yet they lack access to basic health and safety equipment in order to do so.”
Today the government responded by issues new guidance on the recommended use of personal protective equipment.
The new guidance published today features the following changes to previous guidance:
- enhanced PPE recommendations for a wide range of health and social care contexts
- inclusion of individual and organisational risk assessment at local level to inform PPE use
- recommendation of single sessional (extended) use of some PPE items
- re-usable PPE can be used. Advice on suitable decontamination arrangements should be obtained from the manufacturer, supplier or local infection control
- guidance for when case status is unknown and SARS-CoV-2 is circulating at high levels
- recommendation on patient use of facemasks
The RCN promptly issued a statement acknowledging the updated guidance, saying they were largely ‘satisfied’ with the government’s actions.
The union said:
“We are pleased to have had the chance to advise the government about the issues affecting our members in the development of this guidance.
“We were able to ensure extension of the original guidance to cover health care workers in community, mental health and social care settings.
“As such, we are satisfied with the government guidance being issued today and we will be monitoring the situation with regards to the evidence of its efficacy and use. The success of this guidance will be judged by its implementation and communication to those who need it most.”
Read the RCN statement in full here.