Healthcare professional referred to regulator after delaying patient review due to inadequate PPE

It is thought to be the first case of its kind in the UK. A healthcare professional is facing a […]

Matt Bodell
14 August 2020
PPE Hospital

It is thought to be the first case of its kind in the UK.

A healthcare professional is facing a Fitness to Practise (FtP) investigation for allegedly delaying the review of a COVID-19 positive patient because of inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

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The revelation came from a healthcare regulatory solicitor, Andrea James, who tweeted; “Was expecting it, but still disgusted to have received first #FitnessToPractise case arising from NHS trust disciplining healthcare professional who expressed concern about/delayed attending to a COVID+ patient without PPE (NHS Trust having failed to provide said PPE).”

The identity, profession, workplace and regulator involved have not been named.

If investigated by the regular it is though to be the first case of its kind.

Treating patients vs keeping themselves safe.

At the height of the pandemic, the provision of inadequate or inappropriate PPE was reported widely.

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Rob Hendry, medical director at the Medical Protection Society (MPS), told the BMJ; “It is appalling enough that healthcare professionals are placed in the position of having to choose between treating patients and keeping themselves and their other patients safe.

“The stress should not be compounded by the prospect of being brought before a regulatory or disciplinary tribunal.

“MPS members who are faced with regulatory or employment action arising from a decision to not see a patient due to lack of PPE can come to us for advice and representation.

“However, it should not come to this: healthcare workers should not be held personally accountable for decisions or adverse outcomes that are ultimately the result of poor PPE provision.”

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Difficult decisions.

In May the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) released new guidance allowing practitioners to refuse to treat patients if their safety is compromised.

The two-page document outlines the steps nurses must follow when deciding if the PPE provided is appropriate and if they feel their safety is being placed at risk.

It reads; “The RCN is acutely aware that members have reported a lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) in all health and social care settings during the crisis.

“There will be difficult decisions to be made by nursing staff whether to continue to provide care if it is not supplied.”

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