The Royal College of Nursing has warned that despite government announcements, personal protective equipment (PPE) is still not ‘reaching the frontline’.
In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, the chair of the health and social care parliamentary committee, the Royal College’s chief executive and general secretary, Dame Donna Kinnair says its members are ‘facing impossible decisions’ between their own or their family’s health and ‘their sense of duty’.
The issue of whether health and care staff have enough PPE and the right kind of equipment has come up again and again during the coronavirus crisis.
‘The distribution and adequacy of PPE has led nursing staff to share equipment, buy their own supplies or to reuse single-use PPE,’ writes Dame Donna.
‘Although there are announcements that millions of pieces of PPE are being distributed, they aren’t reaching the frontline across all health and care settings.
‘All staff, in all settings, must have enough supply of PPE that meets the required specifications. We are pleased that discrepancies within PPE guidance have been addressed by new UK Government guidance published last week. No less than full implementation of this guidance will do.’
In the letter, Dame Donna also says that coronavirus testing for all health and care staff with possible symptoms ‘can no longer be delayed’ and must be rolled out ‘to ensure that everyone with a role to play in keeping our health and care services going’ can be tested.
‘This will provide reassurance to staff that their safety is paramount and will also enable staff to be deployed safely and effectively preventing unnecessary self-isolation and worry.’
Earlier this week, county council leaders reported ‘real challenges’ securing PPE equipment for care workers as the government issued new guidance on its use.
The guidance that advises any clinician working in a hospital, primary care or community care setting within two metres of a suspected or confirmed coronavirus COVID-19 patient should wear an apron, gloves, surgical mask and eye protection, based on the risk.
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