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No change to PPE recommendations in response to new COVID-19 strains

Guidance update overlooks RCN calls for higher grade equipment and better ventilation

Guidance update overlooks RCN calls for higher grade equipment and better ventilation

A nurse leader has criticised a government decision not to alter personal protective equipment (PPE) recommendations in response to new COVID-19 strains.

Updated guidance on infection prevention and control , issued jointly by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), public health agencies across the UKs four nations and NHS England, says: Following a clinical and scientific review, no changes to the recommendations, including PPE, have been made in response to the new variant strains at this stage.

Call for higher grade PPE and better ventilation

RCN acting general secretary Pat Cullen

Guidance update overlooks RCN calls for higher grade equipment and better ventilation

The RCN has called for the provision of FFP3 masks for staff Picture: Alamy

A nurse leader has criticised a government decision not to alter personal protective equipment (PPE) recommendations in response to new COVID-19 strains.

Updated guidance on infection prevention and control, issued jointly by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), public health agencies across the UK’s four nations and NHS England, says: ‘Following a clinical and scientific review, no changes to the recommendations, including PPE, have been made in response to the new variant strains at this stage.’

Call for higher grade PPE and better ventilation

RCN acting general secretary Pat Cullen

The RCN has been calling on the government to provide higher grade PPE, including FFP3 masks, which provide a higher level of respiratory protection than surgical face masks, to healthcare staff following the emergence of new COVID-19 strains.

The college's acting general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘This new guidance focuses too much on aerosol-generating procedures as the main risk and falls short of the precautionary approach we have been advocating.

‘As we see new variants of concern emerge, we continue to demand FFP3 masks are made more widely available, and increased levels of ventilation as a standardised approach.’

Failing to act on lessons from start of the pandemic

Changes made in the guidance for NHS organisations include advice on sterilising procedures for valved respirators.

‘This guidance fails to properly consider the voices of those who were forced to work without protection at the start of the pandemic and act on those lessons,’ Ms Cullen said.

Responding to the RCN statement, a DHSC spokesperson said the safety of NHS and social care staff has always been its top priority. ‘PPE recommendations in the updated infection prevention and control guidance are agreed by an expert group of clinicians and scientists from across all four nations of the UK, based on the latest clinical evidence. Emerging evidence and data are continually monitored and reviewed, and the guidance will be amended accordingly if needed.’


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