Our websites are being upgraded between 8.30pm Wednesday 5th October and 3am Thursday 6th October. During that time you may experience difficulty accessing some of our content. We apologise for any inconvenience.

PPE fit-test errors: contractor should be suspended, says RCN

Nurses’ COVID-19 safety fears after masks were incorrectly fit-tested

Picture: Shutterstock

A company that fit-tested healthcare workers’ masks incorrectly on multiple occasions should be stopped from carrying out further work pending investigation, the RCN said.

The mistakes led nurses in Northern Ireland to fear they had been put at risk from COVID-19.

Nurses worried about their exposure to risk

Pat Cullen, RCN Northern Ireland director

RCN Northern Ireland director, Pat Cullen said: ‘The RCN has asked the Department of Health to withdraw the company from further work until an objective, external investigation is completed.’

The Department of Health would not confirm whether the contractor was still carrying out testing.

‘Our members will rightly be very concerned and will require advice on managing the levels of risk they have been exposed to,’ Ms Cullen added.

Audit of all fit tests

Northern Ireland's Public Health Authority said the Department of Health instructed it to carry out a serious adverse incident review, and confirmed it was conducting a precautionary audit of all fit tests by the contractor. 

‘We are advised that any risk to staff is likely to be low,’ the statement reads. ‘Additional measures will be put in place to review and monitor fit-testing outcomes. Staff will be informed and offered support.’

Minister ‘deeply sorry’ that staff are concerned

Health minister Robin Swann apologised for the worry the mistakes caused.

‘While I am advised any risk is likely to be low, it will still cause concern to staff and for that I am deeply sorry,’ he said.

In other news