Over 100 nurses have considered refusing to treat patients due to inadequate PPE

The government claims to have delivered over 1 billion items of personal protective equipment since the outbreak began.

Ian Snug
6 May 2020

A massive 70% of calls and emails to RCN Direct are about concerns over PPE.

Over 100 nurses have been forced to seek advice regarding refusing to treat patients amid a lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), the Royal College of Nursing has revealed.


Last month the union told frontline nurses they could refuse to treat patients if their safety was compromised through a lack of PPE and they have exhausted all options to maintain their own personal safety.

Since releasing the guidance, the RCN says it has received 101 calls from nurses who have considered refusing to treat patients after exhausting all other options.

The union also revealed that a massive 70% of calls and emails to its helpline are about concerns over PPE.

A spokesperson for the RCN said;  “No nursing staff should be put in the position where they feel their safety will be at risk if they provide care for a patient with Covid-19, whether that’s because they don’t have adequate PPE, are in a high-risk group, or for any other reason.


“However, we know that worryingly, there are occasions when staff are being put in this situation, and therefore recently issued guidance advising members to escalate concerns to their manager in the first instance, and, if necessary, to their RCN rep.

“Roughly 70% of our calls and emails about refusal to treat are about concerns over lack of PPE, or inadequate standard, or fitting of PPE.”

Responding to the news a Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson commented; “It is our absolute priority to ensure our front-line healthcare staff are protected as much and as appropriately as possible, and they feel safe.

“We are working around the clock to ensure PPE is delivered as quickly as possible to those on the front line of this global pandemic, and have delivered over 1 billion items since the outbreak began.”


Experts have cast doubt over the true amount of PPE delivered to frontline workers after a BBC documentary revealed each individual disposable glove was counted as an item of PPE.

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