COVID-19: care home sector criticises Public Health England over conflicting PPE advice

Resuscitation Council says official guidance for CPR ignores expert consensus

Picture: iStock

The organisation representing care homes in England has criticised Public Health England for creating confusion with its guidance on use of personal protective equipment (PPE) during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

It comes as the Resuscitation Council (RCUK), which sets UK standards on resuscitation, has said it is 'deeply concerned' that PHE's official advice on the issue has not changed to match its own.

Public Health England guidance conflicts with that of RCUK

RCUK, whose guidance aligns with the World Health Organization and the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation, deems delivering chest compressions without PPE an infection risk for healthcare workers.

But PHE has stuck to its position that giving chest compressions does not pose an infection risk.

Care England chief demands clarity from PHE

Care England chief executive Martin Green said: 'It is vital that care services have clear guidance on the use of PPE and this should be delivered by PHE.

'I have some serious concerns about PHE’s performance throughout this pandemic. They have not been quick or consistent enough and they seem to have little understand of services that are delivered outside the NHS.'

PPE issues have been highlighted at care homes, which have so far recorded 1,043 COVID-19 deaths in England and Wales since the start of the outbreak.

An RCUK spokesperson said the organisation hoped nurses' employers were following its guidance.

'We know a great many are – staff should check our latest guidance for their setting, whether it's an acute or non-acute hospital setting.'

PHE ‘defying expert consensus’ in its PPE guidance

'We want nurses and all healthcare professionals to be safe while undertaking essential care and would want them to be able to access Level 3 PPE if the circumstances they work in are ones whereby a cardiac arrest is likely to occur.’

The RCUK spokesperson added that there was now significant confusion across the NHS, with many trusts and healthcare professionals choosing to follow its guidance, rather than that of PHE.

'In a pandemic where healthcare professionals are tragically dying, we challenge the rationale for advocating a lesser form of PPE where expert consensus states that a risk to safety exists,’ they said

A spokesperson for PHE said healthcare providers choosing to follow the RCUK recommendations to don PPE before carrying out chest compressions should consider the infection risk to the healthcare worker, as well as the risks to patients due to any delay to treatment.

In other news