The new guidelines include changes to PPE across primary, secondary and social care settings.
Public Health England (PHE) has today issued revised guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare and social care professionals.
Primary, community and social care workers should be wearing as a minimum, a plastic apron, a surgical mask, and gloves for contact with any patient or member of a household who is possible or confirmed COVID-19. Eye protection can be worn if required.
While hospital staff should now wear a surgical face mask at all times while working in an inpatient area containing possible or confirmed COVID-19 cases, whether or not involved in direct patient care. For undertaking any direct patient care, disposable gloves, aprons and eye protection should be worn if needed.
Respirators, surgical masks, eye protection, and long-sleeved gowns can now be used between multiple patients but remain limited to single sessional use (i.e. undertaking a series of observations).
The Health and Safety Executive has also advised that FFP2 and N95 respirators offer protection against COVID-19 and may be used if FFP3 respirators are not available.
Guidelines for aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs) remains largely unchanged.
A national priority.
Unite has warned that the new guidance will only successfully protect staff if PPE supplies reach them.
National officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said; “The much-awaited revised guidance on PPE for NHS staff is welcome. The guidelines have been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“But this new advice will only be truly effective if PPE supplies reach NHS staff in sufficient amounts in the coming days – this is a national priority.
“How this guidance translates in reality for staff on the NHS frontline in the daily battle against coronavirus will be something we will be monitoring in the days and weeks ahead. The safety of NHS staff must be the top priority as they risk their own health, and even their lives, to save others.
“We do have continuing concerns about the supply chain regarding the delivery of PPE in a timely, adequate and free-flowing fashion. Ministers must be alert to any hiccups in the supply chain and act immediately to iron them out.
“The revised guidance wants to give health and social care staff the autonomy to make decisions, but they do not have that autonomy if they don’t have the equipment.
“We will be getting feedback from our members on how the revised guidelines are working and won’t hesitate to raise any concerns with the department of health and social care, and NHS England.”