Nurses have called on the Government to release the evidence after England fails to introduce further restrictions.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is today demanding that MPs explain their Coronavirus plan as the health service starts to buckle under the pressure.
The College says its members in England are questioning the differences with the rest of the UK and calls on government to release the evidence behind the decisions.
In the past week, several NHS Trusts in England have declared critical incidents over a “perfect storm” of increased patient demand and short staffing.
In a letter to Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid as part of on-going communication with decision-makers in recent days, the leaders of the professional nursing union set out a significant list of concerns raised by members.
Confusion between the nations.
The chair of the RCN’s Council and the body’s general secretary – Carol Popplestone and Pat Cullen – ask for assurances on safe patient care standards amid growing pressure on nursing staff who are treating and vaccinating more patients as staff absences shrink the workforce further.
On restrictions, the letter says: “We continue to navigate the biggest health and care challenge the world has seen.
“It is confusing and concerning that the different UK governments have set out their own different rules and regulations in relation to the management of the pandemic.
“Nursing professionals are questioning the level and nature of the variation between governments.
“We therefore ask that, as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, you work with counterparts across government on a more cautious approach for England without further delay.
Increased levels of PPE.
Two years into a pandemic, the vast majority of NHS staff still only have access to thin surgical masks and aprons even when dealing with COVID-19 positive patients.
On staff absences and protection, the letter adds: “Aligned to this is the risk identified by our members and supported by figures issued by the NHS in England and which reveal high levels of staff absence due to Covid-19. The health and care system in England, already short tens of thousands of professionals, can ill afford the current losses.
“We request that current operating guidance covering personal protective equipment (PPE) is added to, thus ensuring the highest levels of workplace safety for our members and preventing a postcode lottery from developing.
Significant concerns about Nightingale hubs.
On the staffing plan for the ‘mini Nightingales’, the letter explains: “As you would expect our members have significant concerns regarding these approaches, not only from a capacity perspective but from a capability perspective too.
“Our members are particularly concerned as to how the staffing of the Nightingale and other temporary beds may impact on their professional accountability and ensuring that delegation of any aspects of patient care does not leave them, or their patients vulnerable.
“We ask for assurance that all nursing staff, no matter what their role, will be enabled to have freedom to speak up if they have concerns about any aspects of patient care or the treatment of staff, or any delegated duties, as well as protecting the duty of candour that our members take very seriously.”