Recommended use of PPE extended in revised guidelines, but concerns that this still isn’t enough

(Title Image: Simon Davis/DFID Copyright Free)

Following a rapid review of guidelines for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by frontline workers during the pandemic, the recommended use of PPE has been extended slightly – though it remains restricted to suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases.

The revised guidance – which was devised by Public Health England and will apply across the UK means:

  • All health and social care staff within 2 metres of a suspected or confirmed coronavirus patient should wear an apron, gloves, surgical mask and eye protection.
  • Some PPE (masks, visors and gowns) which are currently classed as “single-use” will be classed as “sessional use” (i.e. a ward round or until a worker leave a caregiving setting) in some situations.
  • The use of gowns will be extended, particularly when aerosol-generating procedures are taking place.

Health Minister, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth) said: “It is also important that the guidelines are followed properly and that PPE is used in accordance with the new guidance. For every piece of PPE kit used unnecessarily, a piece of kit will be unavailable to frontline staff caring for a patient or vulnerable person.”

Plaid Cymru believes an expansion of virus testing would compensate for shortages of PPE in the social care sector, as the new guidelines will require more PPE to be used despite reported supply shortages.

Rhun ap Iorwerth AM (Plaid, Ynys Môn) said: “We’re told by Government that things are in hand, but by the (social care) sector that they’re lacking in equipment and don’t know where it’ll come from. One care home manager told me ‘Sooner or later we will find ourselves with a resident who has Covid-19. How do I ask staff to care for that person if they don’t have protection?”

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