Inadequate PPE: RCN helpline receives more than 100 calls from nurses refusing to treat patients

RCN helpline receives 101 calls after stating that nurses should refuse to treat COVID-19 patients if they had insufficient personal protective equipment

Picture: Alamy

More than 100 nurses have sought advice over refusing to treat patients because of a lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), the RCN has revealed.

The college has received 101 calls to its helpline so far after advising that nurses can refuse to treat COVID-19 patients if they had insufficient PPE.

‘No nursing staff should be put in the position where their safety will be at risk’

An RCN spokesperson said: ‘No nursing staff should be put in the position where they feel their safety will be at risk if they provide care for a patient with COVID-19, whether that’s because they don’t have adequate PPE, are in a high-risk group, or for any other reason. 

‘Roughly 70% of our calls and emails about refusal to treat are about concerns over lack of PPE, or inadequate standard, or fitting of PPE.’

Safety and protection of front-line healthcare staff is Department of Health and Social Care priority

Responding to the RCN data, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘It is our absolute priority to ensure our front-line healthcare staff are protected as much and as appropriately as possible, and they feel safe.

‘We are working around the clock to ensure PPE is delivered as quickly as possible to those on the front line of this global pandemic, and have delivered over 1 billion items since the outbreak began.’

Online resource tool set up to help deliver millions of free PPE items

In other news, a new online data map where healthcare workers can report PPE shortages around the UK has now been created.

The resource tool, Frontline Live, has been designed to help suppliers deliver millions of items of free PPE to the organisations most in need.

RCN members can also call 0345 772 6100 for help and advice.

Tributes to four more nurses who have died during the pandemic

Four more nurses are now confirmed to have died after contracting COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Adekunle Enitan

Adekunle Enitan

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust paid tribute to 'kind and caring' intensive care nurse Adekunle Enitan who died on 24 April after testing positive for COVID-19.

Mr Enitan, who had recently undertaken a PhD in hospital management, was cared for by the team he had worked with for five years.

His PhD mentor, ITU senior sister Yvonne Davis said: ‘We are deeply saddened to lose Ade. He was an excellent nurse and a kind and cheery soul.’

Gill Oakes

Gill Oakes

Bolton Hospice's ‘dedicated and compassionate’ senior clinical support nurse Gill Oakes died on 30 April with COVID-19 after 24 years in her job.

Chief executive Leigh Vallance said: ‘She was a brilliant nurse who often helped new members of the team settle into their role at the hospice.’

Philomina Cherian

Philomina Cherian

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) paid tribute to staff nurse Philomina Cherian who died on 30 April, after nearly 40 years in the job.

OUH chief nursing officer Sam Foster said: ‘She was an incredibly caring friend and colleague who will be terribly missed by us all.’

Cecilia Fashanu

Cecilia Fashanu

Nurse Cecilia Fashanu died at her workplace, Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, on 30 April after contracting COVID-19.

North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Lyn Simpson paid tribute to her: ‘She was a much-loved colleague and her death is felt across the organisation as a whole.'

Ms Fashanu's son, Anthony, said: ‘Mum was passionate about people, helping others, selfless and always willing to go out of her way to ensure everyone was comfortable.’


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