Employers are being told to ensure staff are ‘fully prepared’.
Guidance has been sent to NHS trusts across the UK to help ensure the NHS is fully prepared should any patients with suspected COVID-19 (coronavirus) require a diagnosis or treatment.
The guidance contains advice for healthcare workers on how to support patients who are concerned they have the virus, and how to treat infected patients, and how to minimise the risk to themselves.
It also seeks to reassure staff, patients and the public, and to encourage people to take everyday precautions to help prevent the wider spread of coronavirus.
As of 27 February, a total of 7,690 people have been tested in the UK for Coronavirus, of which 7,675 were confirmed negative and 15 positives.
These patients are currently being treated in specialised units, however, the document states this is likely to change as the virus spreads so staff need to be “fully prepared”.
According to the new guidance, employers must; ensure staff are aware of infection control procedures, aware of the protocol to follow if a patient is suspected of having the virus, provide adequate PPE including FFP3 mask fittings, and protect staff who are more vulnerable to contracting the virus.
RCN Associate Director of Employment Relations Josephine Brady said: “Occupational exposure to infections is a risk to health care workers so it is essential that there is clear guidance for employers and staff.
“Nurses and other health care workers are crucial to halting the spread of the virus and must be supported by employers to protect themselves and the public as the situation develops.”